According to the Grace Given to Her

The ministry of Emma Sommers Richards

Edited by James E. Horsch, John D. Rempel, and Eldon D. Nafziger

On June 17, 1973, Emma Sommers Richards was ordained to Christian ministry by Illinois Mennonite Conference at the request of Lombard (IL) Mennonite Church. It was an ordination that marked a breakthrough in North American Mennonites’ understanding that the Holy Spirit calls both women and men to pastoral ministry.

These essays document how that change in understanding came about and describe its fruitfulness in Emma’s ministry. They trace the roots of Emma’s call, beginning with her spiritual development as a child and extending through her studies and teaching; in church planting work in Japan; and through preaching, teaching, and pastoral care ministries in the congregation. They probe the people, events, and encounters that shaped Emma’s legacy as model and mentor for a generation of younger women and men whose gifts grace church life today.

Read the story of the book release celebration on February 26.

Table of Contents

Preface James E. Horsch and John D. Rempel
1.  The setting for the call of women to ministry in the Mennonite Church, Miriam F. Book

2.  Nurtured for the call to ministry: Influences of  Emma’s home, church, and school, Elaine Sommers Rich
Without Emma’s discernment I would not be a pastor today, John Gray

3.  Seedbed for a life of service. Arlene M. Mark
A competent pastor must keep learning, Dan Schrock

4.  In Japan, 1954 –66: Among many discoveries, a far-reaching one, Nancy V. Lee
Instilling a passion for service, Mark King

5.  Called by Lombard Mennonite Church, Earl Sutter
Emma was and continues to be my pastor, Ryan Ahlgrim

6.  Ordained by Illinois Mennonite Conference, Ivan J. Kauffmann
It’s very lonely out here, Rachel S. Fisher

7.  Partners in ministry, E. Joe Richards
A model of Christ-centered leadership, Richard Blackburn

8.  Business as usual: Family reflections on Grandma Emma’s ministry and ordination, Naomi Woods
A model for ministry and marriage partnership, David L. Sutter

9.  Divine call, reluctant blessing: Ordination of women in Mennonite Church USA, Gayle Gerber Koontz
My model for faith and pastoral ministry, Janice Yordy Sutter

10.  My timeline, Emma Sommers Richards
A solid and staunch Anabaptist leader, Paul O. King and Lois Meyer King

A  The ordination of women, Illinois Mennonite Confer-ence, June 24, 1972, East Bend Mennonite Church
B  The minutes of the first meeting of the Study Committee on the Role of Women in the Church, held on October 4, 1972
C  Report of Study Committee on the Ordination of Women, March 26, 1973
D  Mennonite settlements in Illinois, Eldon D. Nafziger
E  The practice of ordination in the New Testament, Eldon D. Nafziger

According to the Grace Given to Her

ISBN: 0-936273-50-X
161 pages. Paper
Retail price: $17.00 (US)

You may order the book from:

“Gender, politics, and church power are skillfully but pastorally woven together in this volume of essays in honor of Emma Sommers Richards. The Mennonite Church is forever altered by her persistent voice—speaking, preaching, parenting, co-pastoring, and sharing with the world an invitation to faithful Christian living.”—Dorothy Nickel Friesen