An Astounding Reversal: Anabaptism’s Gifts

By Melissa Miller

One of the greatest blessings I count is to have grown up in a Christian Anabaptist family. My father was a Church of the Brethren pastor, who served congregations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In the late 19th century, my mother’s ancestors founded the church of my childhood, Raven Run Church of the Brethren, nestled up against a wooded Pennsylvania hill beside a little run of a creek. From both my parents, and from the churches we attended, I learned the way of Jesus, of peace, of community and service.

After studying at Eastern Mennonite College (now University) where I met my husband, I relocated to Ontario and made a home with Mennonites. That second Anabaptist church family is where I remain today, another blessing in my life. All that to say: I am an Anabaptist through and through, with a world view and values system imbibed at my parents’ table and chosen as a young adult. The Anabaptist lens by which to understand God and Christian faith continues to make sense to me.dirk willems

What a humble joy then to encounter these words in a current historical account of the Reformation. Author Thomas Cahill writes, “The Anabaptists … became in time the Mennonites, the Bruderhof, the Quakers. Though universally despised in the early modern period, persecuted, and often drowned by both Catholics and Protestants, their main reforms … (including) a heightened sense of community, compassion for the poor, prison reform, elimination of the death penalty, refusal to take up arms, (and) peacemaking – are now ideals of almost all their former persecutors … From a historical point of view, this is an astounding reversal.” (Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World; Publisher, Nan A. Talese, 2013, p. 306.)

Heretics bookWe may quibble with Cahill’s pairing of Anabaptists (a term originally meaning re-baptized) and Quakers (who do not practice baptism), but the deep appreciation he expresses for previously scorned and persecuted radical reformers is compelling. It is encouragement for MennoMedia to pursue its mission to “create resources for living Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective”. We have inherited the vision that the radical reformers birthed through struggle and blood. Then, as now, it is a vision the world desperately needs. May we be true to our calling to live out and speak of the vision of following Jesus in peace, simplicity, justice and community.

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Where does your own call and vision as a Christian come from? We’d love to hear!

Resources related to “call” can be found here.

MennoMedia copublishes it’s well known and loved children curricula series with the Church of the Brethren, currently Shine: Living in God’s Light, used by various Anabaptist or Anabaptist-leaning groups.

MelissaMillerPorchSwingEditedMelissa Miller lives in Winnipeg, pastors Springstein Mennonite Church, and is secretary of the MennoMedia board.

 

Women’s retreat kit available: Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity

News release
July 16, 2015

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166297721


Take time away for faith and friendship

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—MennoMedia has launched a women’s “retreat kit” about creativity, planned from material in the recent women’s Bible study guide, Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity.

The retreat is designed for women to take time away and gather with others to dwell in God’s Word and worship together. The retreat will help women discover God as the original Creator and the joys of being created in God’s good image—all while nurturing their own creative spirits.

A director’s guide leads retreat facilitators through the steps of planning and leading the Spark retreat, including the usual logistics of coordinating location, schedule, number of days, meals, and the like.

The retreat kit is intended to be comprehensive with easy-to-follow directions, and helpful for team building for women’s groups of all sizes and ages.Spark!Women

The content for this retreat kit was sponsored jointly by Mennonite Women USA, Mennonite Women Canada, and MennoMedia. More information available at www.mennomedia.org/sparkretreat.

MennoMedia Staff
High resolution photo available.

for more information
Melodie Davis
News manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@MennoMedia.org

New Bible study released: Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity

Spark_StudyGuide_RGBEditedWebNews release
July 16, 2015

Women’s Bible study to nurture the creative spirit

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario — A new women’s Bible study book, Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity, has been published by MennoMedia, commissioned by Mennonite Women Canada (MW Canada) and Mennonite Women USA (MW USA).

The study is designed to help users rediscover the joys of being created in God’s image and nurture their own creativity. “We hope that women will take a look at stories of God as the original Artist, and be encouraged to develop their own creativity as a divine gift,” says Mary Ann Weber, managing editor for the Women’s Bible Study series.

Written by April Yamasaki in consultation with MW Canada and MW USA, the study is one in a series of Bible studies commissioned by the women’s groups, including studies on justice, self-care, family care, creation care, stewardship of money, stewardship of gifts, and biblical women.

Yamasaki is a pastor at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbottsford, British Columbia,AprilYamasaki who enjoys expressing her love of Scripture and creativity in worship and preaching.

Twelve sessions and one worship session highlight biblical stories of God’s creative Spirit at work. Beginning with the creation story, the study delves into the creativity God demonstrated during the creation of the world and leads readers into how they can rekindle their own creativity in their daily lives.

Users will look at Scripture as a God-breathed work of creativity, to Jesus as a creative artist through interactions and storytelling, to discovering that the Holy Spirit inspires creativity for the common good. “Readers will grow in their understanding of how they can make creativity a way of living,” notes Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia. “The study will help readers better connect with God—the source of creativity.”

Each session brings biblical texts to life, encouraging readers to uncover, develop, and embrace the gift of their own creativity. Sessions include Scripture, suggestions for a visual to aid reflection and stimulate the senses, a section to dig deeper into the text, a series of questions integrating the story with personal experience, and suggestions for session closings. The study concludes with a creative celebration of worship. All sessions are organized into one book for women’s groups, Sunday school, or individual study. A separate retreat kit is also available.

Author Yamasaki is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and Regent College. She writes a blog about faith and writes and leads retreats on spiritual practices, faith, work, rest, and Christian living. She is also the author of Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, published by Herald Press in 2013, among other works.

MennoMedia Staff
High resolution photo available.

for more information

Melodie Davis
News manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@MennoMedia.org