Over the past 18 months we have been planning for, and dreaming about, the next generation of Sunday school curriculum. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve read a bit about Shine: Living in God’s Light in posts here and here and here.
This past week the Shine writers and editors gathered together at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Indiana, to brainstorm ideas for the first curriculum year. (Fall 2014 is the start of Shine.) In addition to writers and editors, staff from MennoMedia and Brethren Press as the co-publishers were present as well.
No, the writers’ conference isn’t where we write the curriculum. It’s where we train the writers and editors on how to write. They then go home inspired to create sessions for the curriculum. Below are few of our reflections.
What was a highlight of the week?
Mary Ann: The Shine writers’ and editors’ meeting involved many who care about children and their faith formation. It was a highlight to see the enthusiasm of the writers, and to hear the sincerity with which they discussed the biblical texts. How will children encounter a given story? How can writers help create understanding? How will Sunday school leaders respond to the written session and activities? And most importantly, how will these texts help children better understand God’s love? Wrapped up along with the writers’ enthusiasm and these questions is the desire to create places for children to encounter a loving God so that faith can be nurtured.
Amy: On Wednesday morning we had three guest speakers talk about how to meet the needs of an increasingly multicultural church. David Araujo from Iglesia Menonita del Buen Pastor in Goshen, Indiana; Wendy McFadden from Brethren Press; and Cyneatha Millsaps from Community Mennonite in Markham, Illinois, talked about being a Mexican-born American, a Korean-born American, and an African American, respectively. Together the panelists encouraged the writers to:
- Build cultural competencies and learn another perspective.
- Not lump all Spanish-speaking groups from Latin and South America into the label “Latino.” Pay attention to cultural differences and honor them.
- Think carefully about how Jesus and other Bible-times characters are depicted in terms of skin color in illustrations.
- Watch out for activities that automatically presume inclusion or exclusion.
- Be honest about the world we live in.
Name one thing that excites you about Shine?
Mary Ann: An exciting piece of the session plan each week is the inclusion of spiritual practices. Whether individual or group practices, they will help children think about their response to a loving God.
Amy: It was rewarding this week to see the writers really grab onto the idea of “peace notes.” This is a new part of the session plan where we want to draw connections between each story and God’s larger vision of shalom. It’s so close to our heart as Anabaptists.
We’ll close by sharing some of the theme verses for Shine:
- “You are the light of the world. A city built upon a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.–Matthew 5:14–16 (NRSV)
Amy Gingerich, editorial director, and Mary Ann Weber, managing editor