If you love potlucks read this

Studio Session Simply In Season-7560

From the forthcoming Simply in Season Revised edition. Grilled Peach Salsa. Photo by Melissa Hess. Food styling by Cherise Harper.

 

Mennonite Community Cookbook blog and Third Way website and MennoMedia are announcing a “Best Church Potlucks Ever” photo and “short essay” contest.

Some congregations eat together monthly and even weekly as a way of enhancing fellowship and offering hospitality with shared, regular meals. Here’s one!

If you enjoy potlucks, it is probably for more than the food, as fun and intriguing as that can be. What happens at your potluck besides the food? We’d like you to answer that question in 50 words or less. Longer than that, maybe we can use it as a blog post!

To collect photos for use on its websites, MennoMedia is sponsoring the photo contest, with Mennonite cookbooks as prizes, ranging in value from $19.99 to $29.99 USD.

TrinityPotluck

Here are the instructions:

  • Take a mouthwateringly good photo of a food dish.
  • Secure permission to share the name of the person who made the dish; by email, submit the photo; the names of the photographer, cook, and church; and church address (photo should be saved and emailed as a JPG).
  • Additionally, in your email send a statement of 50 words or less stating why your church enjoys eating together. What happens at your potluck besides the food?
  • By submitting a photo and statement, you give permission for your entry to possibly be used in a future blog post for Mennonite Community Cookbook blog (www.mennonitecommunitycookbook.com) and on the Third Way website (www.thirdway.com)
  • Winners will be drawn from all entrants.
  • Deadline is June 15, 2015, 11:59 p.m.
  • Send to Third Way and Mennonite Community Cookbook blog editor Melodie Davis at MelodieD@MennoMedia.org

A grand prize winner will receive a copy of the new 2015 Mennonite Community Cookbook 65th Anniversary Edition. Three winners will receive their choice of these five Herald Press cookbooks: Simply in Season, More-with-Less, Extending the Table, Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations, or Saving the Seasons.

Persons or churches do not have to be Mennonite to enter or win, but the contest is especially seeking Mennonite entries. If you don’t have a church potluck coming up, persons can photograph dishes from a small group or Sunday school potluck or picnic.

I hope to see those yummy photos come rolling into my email! They don’t have to be perfect or like a food stylist set it up, but enticing!

Blog2013 011

Melodie Davis, Managing Editor

AnotherWayWriter

In a couple of weeks look for my Another Way newspaper column on Third Way website on the topic: “What Happens at Church Potlucks Besides Food,” and why some people are NOT such big potluck fans. 

A New Song Collection and Hymnal is Coming!

Mennonites sing to express their faith. That’s what we said in our first hymnal planning session last week in the Twin Cities.

Representatives of Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Church Canada and MennoMedia spent a day in some intensive, but very good meetings, planning a new hymnal for our churches. This was a follow-up on some decisions reached last fall, where the two denominations asked MennoMedia to take the lead in planning and producing a new song collection.

P1070594

While this first meeting had just four of us—Amy Gingerich and myself from MennoMedia and Dave Bergen and Terry Shue from Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, we agreed that our next meeting will include one more each from our denominations, in particular persons with expertise in music and worship. This group will not actually produce a song collection or hymnal; rather we are just a “steering committee” who will hire and select the team that will produce the final product. Besides one full time project director and some other, part-time staff, there will be a committee of 10-12 persons from across the church, hopefully representing the broad diversity of our denominations and especially gifted in music, poetry and worship.

Hymnal

This sign in the children’s Sunday School classroom at Faith Mennonite seemed very appropriate for us as we go forward!

One important bit of work for us was the statement of some values that we hope this process and final product will express:

  • Collaboration and cooperation.
  • Openness and transparency.
  • Leanness and responsiveness—meeting perhaps more intensively, over a shorter time period.
  • Lots of communication, since people want to know what’s happening. Good marketing will be included in this.
  • An excellent product that will help form faith for a new generation.

Lots of questions remain unanswered:

  • Who will be on the committee?
  • How many new songs versus old ones?
  • What kinds of supplementary products will be included (such as audio and visuals)?
  • Will “Praise God From Whom” be #606 again?

We look forward to the next five years as we see this product take shape and hope and pray for a resource that helps preserve and treasure a faith tradition in music.

DSCN1983
~Russ Eanes
Executive Director, MennoMedia

***
Read the complete news release on the project sent out this week.

***
WANT TO STAY IN THE KNOW? Sign up for quarterly (approximately) email news releases/updates on the song collection project by sending your email to this address: HymnalInfo@MennoMedia.org.

***
Check out existing and vintage hymnals and songbooks we still sell!

Shine On: Middle School Math Teacher Shares Appreciation for Nourishing Lessons with No-Nonsense Prep

Guest blog by Esther Kratzer Koontz,

MennoMedia’s new Shine Sunday school curriculum for children, [published in partnership with Brethren Press] is praiseworthy: easy to plan, easy to teach and committed to deep and simple truths that stick with me all week long.

A student’s welcome sign from Esther Kratzer Koontz’s class at First Mennonite Church of Hutchinson, Kan.

I commute 45 minutes to church, which gives me plenty of time to plan the lesson on the way. As long as I’ve packed the snack, I can usually scavenge up the rest of the ingredients for a nourishing and enjoyable lesson at the church.

This week, I needed a backpack — but I found that on the floor of our minivan. I was supposed to have packed the backpack with a sampling of “valuables” to represent the weight of possessions in our lives, but my first- and second-grade students sure had fun helping me fill the backpack with wooden blocks of various sizes, each representing something a “rich man” might own.

“Gold, a mansion, a hot tub!”

We found our “limbo stick” in the broom closet. A needle? The sewing ladies happily showed us where those are kept.

Then we read each story right out of the new Shine On Bible. Word for word.

DocHdl2OnVERSA-PPM01tmpTarget

While I read slowly, we acted out the story with the olive wood figures in our story people box. Jesus changes shape every week. Some weeks he’s tall and dark. Other weeks he’s light and stout with a knot on his back. The kids are never a bit surprised.

My scarf of the day quickly turned into the river where Jesus was baptized, the road where Jesus and his friends walk, or the sea where Jesus pulled up in his boat made of, you guessed it, a wooden block.

My busiest students loved building Peter’s mother’s house or the ship where Jesus stands to calm the winds.

What do you wonder?

After the story, we closed our eyes and asked the curriculum’s “wondering” questions. You don’t raise your hand to answer the questions. You just think about the story and wonder.

I wondered if the man used any of his money to help others. (The Bible doesn’t tell us.) I wondered how the things we own can make it hard to follow Jesus. Imagine hearing someone tell you to sell everything you own. Jesus asked the man to give what he owned to the poor. I wondered what God wants me to do.

What deep ideas — yet so simple for our little ones to grasp when they enter through the context of the story.

First shall be last

Each lesson includes simple movement games, a perfect transition as we left the worship center to head back to the table.

While we played the limbo game weighed down by the backpack full of block possessions, my daughter asked, “What does it really mean for the first to be last? What if someone’s been waiting for a long time, and they just got to the front of the line? Will they be last again?”

For snack, we lined up for a special treat, and I surprised them by giving the child at the back her treat first.

The child who had hurried to the front was my daughter. She cried about it later in the car, not because she got her snack last but because she was worried that she might end up last in God’s kingdom. Plus, she was embarrassed.

My husband told me, “Your line illustration may have been too literal.”

We told our daughter, “Jesus is simply looking out for the ones who everyone else has forgotten or pushed to the back. In God’s kingdom, it’s not about getting in line. Remember Jesus’ open arms last week as he let the children come.”

A blessing for each

Toward the end of each class, we eat our snack, work on optional activities in the student leaflets, chat or listen to music from the Shine CD. The kids sing really loud and dance whenever “Siyuhumba” comes on.

Each lesson includes a blessing to finish with, and we read it, word for word. I have found I can’t improve on the thoughtfulness of what the authors prepared.

On the last week of the quarter, the teacher’s guide suggested I bless each child for his or her special gifts to the class. I got a bit teary as I went around the table thanking each child individually: for coming early to prepare the room, for welcoming newcomers, for running the CD player, for asking good questions, for helping me build props for the Bible stories.

Last week some of the children created signs welcoming others to our class to mirror Jesus’ welcoming the children. One girl’s sign said, “Come in! This is the best class ever.”

I echo her sentiment, and add: this is the best Sunday school curriculum ever. It’s easy to teach, and the lessons pierce the heart with their truth and depth. The children respond to the stories and activities with joy and amazing perception, showing me what it must be like to enter the kingdom of God like a child.

Esther Kratzer Koontz teaches Sunday school at First Mennonite Church in Hutchinson, Kan. This article appeared originally in Mennonite World Review. Used by permission.

Esther also blogs at Through Grass and Sage and wrote previously about her first Sunday using Shine On.