Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 6:30pm to Friday, April 5, 2019 - 4:00pm

                        Relief, Development and Peacemaking in the Name of Christ

2019 Relief Sale Workshops

April 3-5, 2019

Sponsored by the North American Mennonite Relief Sale Board

The Welcoming Place, Akron, PA

            Les Gustafson-Zook –, 574-534-4133 


Join MCC relief sale organizers and volunteers from across Canada and U.S. to take part in workshops at the Welcoming Place in Akron. Workshop participants will tackle current challenges, share new ideas, and learn about new resources for relief sales.

Wednesday, Apr. 3

6:30 – 9:00 p.m.                      Registration, Meet and Greet, Snacks

Thursday, Apr. 4

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.              Registration/Breakfast at Dining Hall                            

8:45 a.m.                                 Welcome/Introductions – NAMRSB Chair – Willard Martin

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.                    General Sessions:

  • MCC Welcome w/ Update & Stories – Ron Byler, Executive Director, MCC U.S.
  • Keynote Address #1 – John Sharp – Historian/Author
    • Where Have We Been?
      • Celebrating History of MCC/Relief sales/Churches/Diversity                                                         

10:15 a.m.                               Break  (Quilters leave for quilt activities)

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.                  General Session:

  • Celebrating the Centennnial with Relief Sales – Les Gustafson-Zook, NAMRSB Coordinator

12:00 – 12:45 p.m.                  Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.                      Breakout Seminars: 45 min sessions/repeated twice

-Non-RS Fundraisers – Ideas and challenges – Lois Huston

-Auctions - Exploring the future - Functional, heirloom/online– Jess Slager/Phil Heidebrecht/Jep Hostetler

-Dwindling volunteers/lean sale management – Les G-Z & Linda Graber

3:00 p.m.                                 Break                                                                                         

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.        Discussion Sessions:     

                                    - Bringing out the crowd – tbd

                                    - Online Auctions – Jep Hostetler

                                    - Blessings bids  - Steve Hopkins                                 

                - Accessing MCC Resources - Les Gustafson-Zook

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.            Dinner – Catered by a local ethnic restaurant

6:30 p.m.                       Evening Entertainment – Meeting Room

-NAMRSB Annual Meeting – Willard Martin

- Entertainment – Musique, Mystique and Marvels of MCC

- SenseLes (Ken Sensenig, Les Gustafson-Zook) with Jep Hostetler

8:00 p.m.                        Snacks/Socializing                               

Friday, Apr. 5


7:30 – 8:30 a.m.              Breakfast

8:45 a.m.                         General Session

                                    - MCC Devotional – Martha Kimmel –

                       MCC Learning and Evaluation Coordinator

                          - Keynote Session 2 – John Sharp – Where are we going?

                                Looking toward the next 100 years

10:00 a.m.                      Break/ (Quilters leave for quilt activities)

10:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.     Breakout Seminars: 45 min sessions/repeated twice

                                     - Involving Millennials - Les

      -  Going Green – Moving a sale toward recycling- Howard Good/Marlisa Yoder Bontrager

                                    -  Working with auctioneers – hired vs volunteer – Steve Hopkins

12:00 p.m.                      Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.            Table talk discussions – sign up to lead your topic

2:30 p.m.                       Closing Session, Willard Martin – Chair, NAMRSB

3:00 p.m.                       Tour of MCC Offices/MRC Ephrata                                                                                           

4:00 – 9:00 p.m.             Van to PA Sale in Harrisburg for those needing transportation


Saturday, Apr. 6


6:30 a.m. Van to PA Sale in Harrisburg for those needing transportation


-------------------------------------Quilters only agenda----------------------------------------------


Thursday, April 4

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.       Registration/Breakfast at Dining Hall                                 

8:45 a.m.                          Large Group                                                                                                                        - Welcome/Introductions                                                       

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.             Devotions/ General Session                                                                                                                                

10:15 a.m.                        Break  - Quilting group to MRC

10:45 a.m.                        Tour of MRC/Discuss quilt making with regular quilting group

12:00 p.m.                               Lunch

1:00 p.m.                          Presentation: Barbara Garrett

                                                – History of Quilt Making Illustrated with Doll Quilts

2:30 p.m.                         Break

3:15 p.m.                        Make it and Take It Activity

4:15 p.m.                        Return to Akron Welcome Place for dinner and evening                                                         activities/concert

Friday, April 5

7:30 a.m.                                  Breakfast

8:45 a.m.                                  Large Group - Devotions/Keynote Presentation

10:15 a.m.                                Shop Hop – Visiting 2 Quilt shops in New Holland

12:15 p.m.                               Lunch – at restaurant or brown bag

1:15 – 4:00 p.m.                      Shop Hop (continued)  - Visit the New Holland Reuzit Shop                                                           

4:00 – 9:00 p.m.                      Meet back at MCC office for Van to Harrisburg for PA Sale


Workshop/Session Descriptions

Keynote Speaker – John Sharp

John has recently retired from teaching history and Bible at Hesston College in Kansas — his alma mater. Prior to this, he served as the director of the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee and Archives in Goshen, Ind. John shares his knowledge of Amish and Mennonite life and culture with Road Scholar and other educational organizations.

He has edited Gathering at the Hearth: Stories Mennonites Tell, and written A School on the Prairie: A Centennial History of Hesston College, 1909-2009, and My Calling to Fulfill: The Orie O. Miller Story, published in 2015. His most recent book, with coauthors Marion Bontrager and Michele Hershberger is The Bible as Story: An Introduction to Biblical Literature, published in 2016.

He is currently researching and writing a history of the Amish settlement at Arthur, Ill, and leading educational tours to Western Europe, Prague and Poland, and Central Asia.

He has a bachelor’s degree in communication from Goshen College, and a master of divinity degree from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind. He is married to Michele Miller Sharp, a 1977 graduate of Goshen College. They have two adult children and three grandchildren in Colorado and Kansas. Their son, Michael J. Sharp, a United Nations Expert, was abducted and murdered last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was investigating the sources of violence and working for nonviolent resolutions to conflict.



9:30am            MCC Stories from the Past – John Sharp

  • As a historian, what themes and stories that have engaged MCC supporters over the years? What role has MCC played in being a unifying force among various churches?

10:45am          Celebrating the Centennial with Relief Sales

– Les Gustafson-Zook – NAMRSB Coordinator

What resources and ideas can be used to help relief sales celebrate the centennial year for MCC?

1:00 p.m.         Breakout Seminars: 45 min sessions/repeated twice

- Fundraisers – Ideas and challenges – Lois Huston

                                                - meals, golf, rides, concerts

                     - Auctions - Exploring the future? Functional vs heirloom – Jess/Phil

                                                - meals, vacation cabins, experiences

                     - Dwindling volunteers/lean sale management – Les/Linda

                                                - how does a sale rebuild a sustainable model

                                                - ability to delegate, invite new ideas

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.   Discussion Sessions:     

                        - Bringing out the crowd

                                    It’s easier to attract people who already know about the sale and support MCC than to lure outside people in. How can we make the sale more attractive to the people who already support MCC – fresh ideas, good food, kid’s activities, entertainment

                        - Online Auctions

                                    After a few years of experience, it’s time for an evaluation. What are the upfront costs, how can you make up for the loss of entertainment value, does it really reach a larger and intended audience, is it too complicated for folks who attend the sale

                        - Blessings bids      

                                    Come in many forms, buying and re-donating, buying at greater value, bread, peanuts, pies, traveling quilts, MyCC matches, etc. What seems to work best? 


6:30 p.m.         Evening Activities – Great Hall

NAMRSB Annual Meeting, NAMRSB Chair – Willard Martin

Entertainment –     SenseLes with Jep Hostetler

Combining music and stories, Ken Sensenig & Les Gustafson-Zook (SenseLes) share about the work of Mennonite Central Committee. Ken is an engaging storyteller and the Assistant Director at MCC East Coast and has many years of experience with MCC to draw from for past and present stories of MCC work. Les is a musician who works with MCC Great Lakes in Constituent Relations and uses home-made, thrift-shop worthy instruments to introduce the themes of MCC through song.  As a special treat, Jep Hosteter, motivational speaker, humorist and illusionist will join the duo to add his creative energy to the presentation. Together they will create an entertaining and informative evening that will be enjoyed by all!



9:00 a.m.         MCC Looks to the Future – John Sharp

  • As a historian, what role will MCC be playing and what will be the challenges as we look toward the future?


10:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.        Breakout Seminars: 45 min sessions/repeated twice

- Going Green – Howard Good/Marlisa Yoder Bontrager

- sharing recycling experiences from Mennonite World Conference with application to relief sales                  

- Involving Millennials – Les Gustafson-Zook

- what are their passions that will keep them interested/involved – what might they organize if given the opportunity?

         - Working with auctioneers – hired vs volunteer – Steve Hopkins

                                    - entertainment vs quick sale

                                    - do you really get what you pay for?

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.             Table talk discussions – sign up to lead your topic