Growing Where You’ve Never Gone Before

Blog by Jerilyn Schrock

“A man’s mind stretched to a new idea
never regains its original dimensions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

I like to stretch. It feels good to stretch after a workout and while doing yoga or Pilates and sometimes for a bit in the afternoon in my office. (I’m glad I have a door that I can shut.) Every few days I notice that I can stretch just a little . . . bit . . . more. And that’s good.

Since joining the marketing side of the MennoMedia team a year ago, I’ve been stretched in many directions at once. The first six months involved extensive travel to places I’m sorry to admit I had never been before: Lancaster, Elkhart, Goshen, to name a few, plus Kitchener-Waterloo a month prior. I grew up Mennonite in Harrisonburg but now since visiting what I affectionately dubbed ”MennoMeccas,” I feel more approved somehow. Travel can be both exciting and challenging, and meeting some of our great customers and supporters in person while following authors on book tour was a great experience. Stretch.

ShirleyAndJerilyn[Shirley Showalter, left, with Jerilyn Schrock.]

I’ve worked with wonderful authors: Shirley Showalter, Logan Mehl-Laituri, Saloma Miller-Furlong, Ervin Stutzman, Rachel Gerber, Dr. Glen Miller.

ForGodandCountry[Jerilyn took this photo at the Notre Dame Campus bookstore of Andre Gingerich Stoner, Mennonite Church USA Director of Interchurch Relations, chatting with Herald Press Author Logan Mehl-Laituri at the launch of For God and Country (in that order).]


The list goes on and happily will continue to grow. I didn’t know any of the authors before starting to work with them. Each author has shown me a better way of communicating and relating and has taken me to a higher level both personally and professionally. And of course, marketing their books invites reading their books. All insightful. All challenging and changing. Stretch.

I’m excited to not only work with great authors but great staff at MennoMedia as well. The level of hard work and creativity is incredible, and I also appreciate the high level of integrity. I’m constantly encouraged by example to eat healthier (many eat locally and intentionally), live healthier (many walk/work out daily and/or ride their bikes all over God’s creation), be more active in church (many are in positions of leadership), and laugh whole-heartedly (the puns and dry humor can bring on some serious tears). How does one take staff members from multiple states across two countries, all with different histories, experiences, thought processes, and personality types and gel them into a common team that not only doesn’t resemble a complete mess but works together with synergy, energy, and good will? God. Stretch.

IMG_8721I’ve been told that who you become in five years is directly related to what you read and with whom you associate. I know I’m blessed to be here and read these books and partner with these people. I’m also excited to work with and meet many of you! I’m pleased with the growth I’ve seen in both myself and in MennoMedia this past year and look forward to where we’ll be in five years. I can tell that every day we’re being stretched just a little . . . bit . . . more. And that’s good.


How have you stretched in the last year? How would you like to see Herald Press stretch?

Jerilyn Schrock
Sales and Marketing Manager
Herald Press

[In above photo, Jerilyn is 5th from right, pictured with many of the Harrisonburg office staff for MennoMedia/Herald Press. Blush author Shirley Showalter, a Harrisonburg resident, is 2nd from right.]



How do Words Enhance or Hinder Worship?

By Mary Ann Weber

I’m a word person. I’m fascinated by how words are put together to make phrases and sentences. What do they mean? What do the words convey? Take this phrase: “Did you eat today?” Say it out loud four times, each time emphasizing a different word. Notice how the meaning changes, even though the same words are spoken. Fascinating!

All of this tells me that words are to be considered carefully and I thought about this as I was working with worship resources this week. MennoMedia offers a bulletin series subscription for congregations to receive bulletin covers for each Sunday. They are offered with or without worship resources printed on the back. You can read more about them see samples here and below.

The congregation where I spent my formative years did not use preplanned worship resources. I noticed that each Sunday, the prayers and words were similar to ones said the previous Sunday. It was predictable and did not tap into my love of words.

When I moved to another area I got involved with a different congregation. The worship leaders and pastors gave great thought as to what was spoken during the service, and I came alive! The poetic phrases, the images that came to mind, the careful nuancing of words, all enhanced my worship. A whole world opened up to me.

I keep these congregational stories in mind as I work with worship resources. How will words enhance, or hinder, worship? How will words lead someone into the presence of God? How will words encourage community and discipleship?

Some people are gifted in writing worship resources. Some people prefer to use resources written by others. Hymnal: A Worship Book, Sing the Journey, and Sing the Story, are all designed to lead congregational worship.

Along with quality song selections, each book includes good worship resources to be used during worship services and throughout the church calendar year.

Words for Worship and Words for Worship 2 pay careful attention to words and how they fit together. Take a look at these books the next time you plan a worship service.


How do you use words during worship? How do they invite people into God’s presence?


Visit the Congregational Resources Section of the MennoMedia store to find many of these items.


Mary Ann Weber
MennoMedia Managing editor

For Anyone Wanting the Inside Scoop on Shine

By Rachel Nussbaum EbyDocHdl2OnVERSA-PPM01tmpTarget Before I became the managing editor of Shine curriculum, I served as my church’s Sunday school superintendent. My two most important responsibilities were to order materials and make sure I had enough teachers every Sunday. Sometimes finding teachers also meant convincing people that they could teach. I even planned a lunch and short seminar after church to encourage teachers—past, present, and future. Mary Ann Weber, managing curriculum editor, was the presenter, and she offered great tips on how to use the curriculum (which was then Gather ‘Round). Mary Ann also encouraged us to talk about our own experiences, and we learned from those stories too.

If I was still the Sunday school superintendent, I wouldn’t need a special speaker to talk about the new Shine curriculum because a lot of helpful information is available. One primary source is the Shine website. You can learn why the Shine curriculum was planned the way it was, the elements of each session, what Bible stories are featured, which products each age group uses, and much more.

An even better source of information is Shine Together: The Essential Guide for Leaders and Teachers.ShineTogether150 This small book is packed with helpful information and can be purchased online. I think my challenge would be deciding which topics would be the most important to discuss. Chapters include:

  • Welcoming and nurturing our children
  • The nuts and bolts of a Shine session
  • The spiritual practice of teaching
  • Worshiping together
  • Transforming Sunday school
  • Growing in faith
  • God’s shalom

Shine Together emphasizes the role that Christian formation has in our churches and the importance of providing it with authenticity and love. With all practical advice and inspirational quotes about teaching, this might be a good item for every teacher to have when they leave your training event.

I would also want my training event to provide an opportunity for my teachers to look over the materials before they are preparing for the first class. If you haven’t already done so, purchase a starter kit. starterpackIt’s a great deal and you don’t need to know the size of your age groups to order it. (For those churches who use Multiage—kindergarten through grade 6, there’s a kit especially for you, shown below.)

starterpackmultiagebagMultiage starter kit, with carry bag.

A kit includes actual products that can be used during the Fall 2014 quarter. Several items will be used even longer like the music and Shine On: A Story Bible.

IMG_9910Be sure to play some songs from the Early Childhood Music CD and/or Year One Songbook and CD at your training event.

IMG_2298The music on these CDs is part of the curriculum—not a product added for convenience’s sake. Chosen for its relevance to the themes and Bible stories, the music was professionally arranged and performed. At the same time it is a learning CD (as opposed to a performance CD) to make the music easy for teachers to use and for children to learn.

y1Shine_SongbookAndCDMatter of fact, I was so impressed by these music products that I encouraged my church—that hasn’t purchased music in many years—to buy it, and the current superintendent did! Now when I teach in the future, I’ll be able to include music in much more meaningful ways.

Rachel Nussbaum Eby
Managing editor of Shine


Is your church ready? What questions do you still have?


The new church school year begins Aug. 31 and Shine launches! Order by June 24, 2014 for best service! (Store is closed for inventory June 25-30. We’ll also be happy to take your order on July 1 or really anytime thereafter!)