Announcing a New Tagline for Third Way Website and a Request for Your Help

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At MennoMedia, we are in the midst of an update and relaunch of Third Way. This website is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, helping the general public understand what following Jesus as Mennonite or Anabaptist Christians is all about.

A couple weeks ago we identified the new tagline chosen for the updated website, “Simply following Jesus.” While we looked at and tested and played with a number of phrases, this one seemed to say it all in a way appropriate for the website.P1060424

New tagline and logo look for Third Way website.

The new site will focus on six key values, in addition to a general section on Mennonites:

  1. Jesus,
  2. Community,
  3. Peace,
  4. Simplicity,
  5. Service,
  6. Justice.

There’s still a lot of work to do, but I wanted to use this blog to solicit your help and ideas for one new section focusing on community or the communal aspect of our faith, even though Mennonites are not generally living in the same houses or a commune or closed-type community like, for instance, a Hutterite colony.

It’s “community” in a broad sense like spiritual connectedness, but it also includes flesh and blood connectedness—the ties we experience as we get to know, love, work, and fellowship with others trying to follow Jesus in all aspects of our lives. The early disciples certainly formed a community; the early Christians lived together and had “all things” in common, including the purse; and the Reformation-era Anabaptists were a further-flung community over several countries at the time, bound together by common beliefs and suffering.

Over the years of hosting Third Way, we found persons deeply longing for and needing the kind of community they hear exists among some Mennonite and Anabaptist faith communities. One frequent complaint and question at Third Way has been: “There is no Mennonite church anywhere near me, so how can I find that kind of community?” The underlying question with that is “Can’t you please help start more churches in outlying areas?” We have frequently referred such pleas to regional Mennonite conference bodies for their awareness, prayer, and possible action—church plants or exploration. But people are longing for cross-generational community.

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I have heard people say “I wish my church was like that” when it comes to offering support, especially in times of serious illness, grieving, and even tough decision making. I have heard people speak of visiting their own loved one in a hospital and observing others who had no one visiting, or they accompanied a family member for cancer treatments, and saw that others had no one accompanying them. It’s the barn-raising spirit in urban or suburban form.

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Just today over at Practicing Parents blog, Lee Hull Moses writes about helping to raise other people’s kids: “We’re all in this together. That’s why we take meals to new parents and offer to babysit. It’s why we share hand-me-downs and advice. But it’s also why we volunteer in schools and read books to kids who are not our own. It’s why we advocate for laws that protect and provide for children. It’s why we support community programs that work to keep families out of poverty.”

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These are some of the things we mean by community, and lots more. Who is living and writing about this kind of stuff in blogs, articles, or even church newsletter format? Where would you point us? Who might be willing to share their experiences and insights? (You have a supper club meeting once a month or more? That’s community! How does it work, keep going? You have a small group that is your community? Who is doing a good job of expressing those kinds of connections? You have a service group or mission activity that has built relationships and connections across cultures or neighborhoods? That’s community.)

I hope to hear from you with recommendations, links, names of blogs, writers, pastors who are all about community. Go!

And thanks for your leads. That’s community.

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How do you define community? What makes community work for you?

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To know more about the work that MennoMedia is doing to update and relaunch the Third Way website, click here and here. And sign up here for the MennoMedia Links newsletter to be among the first to know about new products like this.

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Comment here or email me privately at melodied@mennomedia.org or any of us here at MennoMedia.

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If you want to support the outreach word of MennoMedia through Third Way website, here’s a way to do so online. Bless you!

TGIF: How to Get Great Free Books

 

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If you see the MennoMedia Facebook page, you likely know about Goodreads.

If you read a lot of books anyway, and would like to get more books, you would likely enjoy Goodreads. It’s one of those social media sharing sites for people with specialized interests. Giveaways are popular through social media, but time consuming to manage and administer, so that’s why, with a very small staff, we at MennoMedia and Herald Press use the Goodreads program frequently.

Right now we have three Goodreads giveaways offered:

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  • Two copies of Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds are on the giveaway block at Goodreads from now until September 22. Bonnet Strings is a memoir by Saloma Miller Furlong about a woman who grew up Amish and then made the traumatic decision to leave her community as she fell in love with and married her eventual husband. A great book to curl up with this fall and winter … or share with a friend or family member! More info here.

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  • Five copies of Rebecca, the second of Mary Christner Borntrager’s Ellie’s People series are up for grabs on Goodreads beginning Monday, September 15, and running through October 1. If you know girls between the ages of 8-14, they just might enjoy this book. Read more about the series in our earlier blog post. (And you have to be at least 13 to enter on Goodreads.)

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  • And here’s a different giveaway over at Valley Living, a Harrisonburg-area magazine for families that I edit in my spare time. On November 1, Valley Living will give away one free copy of Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations in a drawing from all those who complete a word search from the Valley Living website (the magazine is doing this to promote the website too). Here’s where to download the word search, this one on “the skeleton,” which can help kids learn about bones. So if you have kids, grandkids or teach kids the right age, they might enjoy helping do the word search, or even sending it in to win the free book for their mom or grandmother (hint hint). It has to be downloaded to enter it in the giveaway. For more on the beautiful book, check here. Not into a word search? That’s fine—share it with a friend.The deadline to submit the puzzle for the contest is October 29, and the address to send it to is printed on the puzzle.

That’s the point of all these giveaways anyway: sharing information, helping people know about good books available for a wide variety of interests and tastes, and keeping the love of reading and demand for books alive, regardless of whether you prefer ebooks, softbacks or old fashioned hardbacks.

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All of these books and more are always available at our store (or by clicking on the photos above) or by calling 800-245-7894.

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Do you know of other book giveaway sites? What is your favorite? Let us know! And enter any and all of these giveaways for some wonderful books.

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If you’re curious about the “rules” from Goodreads, here are some of the guidelines:

  • No purchase necessary. Only one entry is allowed per household. You must be 13 or older and a legal resident of one of the countries this giveaway is listed for.
  • The publisher or author, not Goodreads, is responsible for shipment of books to winners. To list a book, the publisher or author has already agreed never to send you anything except the book in question.
  • You are not required to review the book if you win a copy. However, we encourage you to do so, as it’s the reason the publishers are giving us free books in the first place. People who review the books are also more likely to win more advance copies in the future.
  • By accepting an advance copy and posting a review, you grant Goodreads and the publisher an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, and distribute your review.
  • In compliance with FTC guidelines, please disclose in your review that you received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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Melodie Davis, managing editor and author

How to Design a Book Cover in 3 Easy Steps – Part 2 by Merrill Miller

Last time I discussed the first two of three steps for designing a book cover, “Problem” and “Process.” Now we’ll get the final stage.

PRESENT: In which the designer presents cover mock-ups to the committee and prays the best direction will result

The best way to kill a brilliantly creative idea is to show it to a committee.”—said every designer ever.

Although some ideas are not killed quite as dead as others, some truly creative solutions have been strangled by committees, focus groups, authors, brothers-in-law, and other experts. But, lest I sound too harsh or whiney, most of the time this critique process serves to strengthen and refine in positive ways.

I decided to present four ideas: an Amish man riding bike (because that’s how the author got around), an Amish man standing at the Grand Canyon, a softball game, and an Amish man chasing his buggy. I sketched out these ideas, one of which I fleshed out in color to present a style of illustration as a possibility. For the softball cover I found a photo which I thought fit the character of Wisecrack Wanda from the book.

AmishForLife_4optionsI really felt that the image of the man chasing his buggy fit the humorous nature of the author’s writing best and was the most likely to grab people’s attention. I stated this in our meeting and after short deliberation it was agreed that this image was the most promising. The decision was also made that the cover image should be photographic, not illustrated. This meant finding photos that could be composited or take a photo on location with a model and a buggy. It was also voiced that the typography I had chosen might not appeal to a popular market. This imagery also spurred the change of title from Amish for Life to Chasing the Amish Dream—much more interesting and fitting.

I returned with this information to the Creative Action Center (see the diagram here, the same I shared last time).3EasySteps72dpi I searched for photos that could work together. At this point I was still making mock-ups and didn’t need a final image yet. I presented two cover ideas based on the Chasing theme.

Additional work was still needed on typography. My fellow designer, Reuben Graham, developed an outstanding logo for the Plainspoken series and it made most the sense to use the same font for the cover type as well.

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The author sent us some of his own clothes and a straw hat to use for the photo shoot. I then began carefully looking for the perfect model. Mostly, they had to fit in the clothes and be willing to act like they were running as fast as they could. Also, we needed to compose the model in such a way to obscure his face, since most Amish groups do not appreciate having their photo taken. No, we didn’t hire a highly paid model. I leaned on a willing fellow staffer here at MennoMedia. Now you know.

We got some great options from the shoot and I combined them with a background scene and a buggy. I presented the third round of mock-ups to the committee. The overall imagery was well received but when shared with the author, we discovered that the buggy was an Ohio buggy, not an Indiana buggy.

So we contacted a photographer in Elkhart County and asked her to take a few photos of Indiana buggies from a certain vantage point that would fit into our composition. She pitched a strike and the fourth round cover presentation was a homerun.

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There you have it—cover design in three easy steps.

It should also be emphasized that not all cover designs follow the same path. In fact, I would venture to say that no two cover processes are exactly the same. For example, I like to compare the paths of The Naked Anabaptist and Under Construction.

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Under Construction took very little time to determine a direction/image. The actual photo search and assembling those photos in PhotoShop took days. While it is a complex image, it was fun to build.

The Naked Anabaptist didn’t take long once we found the right image. The process of finding the one right image took days of searching and multiple rounds of rejections. While this is a simple image it was sometimes an arduous process—but the end result is just as rewarding.

Yes, just like breaking rocks or teaching kids, the end result is almost always rewarding.

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You can purchase Chasing the Amish Dream on pre-publication discount for just $9.75 (25% off) until October 21, 2014.

—Merrill Miller, senior graphic designer

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