When googling an answer doesn’t quite cut it: ThirdWay.com’s quirky questions of 2015

News Release

JANUARY 13, 2016

When googling an answer doesn’t quite cut it: ThirdWay.com’s quirky questions of 2015
Relaunched website recovers robust traffic

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Angela and Erwin Rempel, volunteers

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—In April 2015, Third Way website was relaunched. All visits to Third Way came to a standstill for a few days during the massive switchover, handled ably by 427 Design in Akron, Ohio.

By late 2015, daily visitors to Third Way were averaging 750 or more. After a slight and normal lag over the holidays, visitors have rebounded to more than 800 a day. In 2014, the site was averaging 500 to 650 visitors a day.

Erwin and Angela Rempel serve as volunteers who respond personally to the twists on questions that the site doesn’t answer directly, or when seekers are looking for a Mennonite church in an area where there aren’t many. Students ask for help with research for school reports, ranging from elementary to graduate school. The Rempels generally offer links to parts of the website or other sites that will answer their questions. When questions pertain to specific Mennonite beliefs, they respond in keeping with the current Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.

The questions asked—and common search terms—often reveal still-pervasive curiosity and confusion between Mennonites and Amish. “Difference between Mennonites and Amish” is the most used search term for people accessing Third Way, but search terms about “who is Jesus” come up frequently as well. Five of the top 12 searches centered on Jesus in the last year.

The Rempels reported that by far the most compelling story and comment (no question) came from a woman named Haida, who gave permission for her comment to be shared more broadly:

“I don’t have the same faith as you (if anything I consider myself a Buddhist), but I have the utmost respect for your faith, and the way a lot of you walk the walk not just the talk. I was abandoned by my parents at the age of 16. I was babysitting two young children at this time; the family found out about my situation and without a moment’s thought invited me into their home. I was a severely neglected angry teenager who had no idea what a peaceful, loving home even looked like, and I found love in that home. They never judged me; they never tried to convert me; they just led by graceful example. That was 25 years ago and they are to this day my family. Out of all the Christian denominations, the Mennonite church is the one I respect and admire the most. I wish more people knew how much good honest work you do around the world. People can have such a negative, often justified reaction to Christians that I wish they had experienced a Mennonite interaction, ’cause you guys are different.”

ThirdWayCafeBelow are some of the more interesting questions Third Way received this past year (spelling and punctuation corrected, and names withheld).

RACE, LAST NAMES, AND MONEY. I am a Mennonite born and raised in South America. I do agree [with your site] that Mennonites are like that in Canada. But have you ever been in South America? It’s so sad and unbelievable how they treat each other depending on race, last names, and money. I am very proud where I come from. But [I] do not applaud what they do in some places.

GOOD STEWARDS OF THE PLANET? Jesus was all about nonviolence and [loving] God. Why is it that there are so many Christians [who] don’t seem to care about the earth? Doesn’t God wanted them to be good stewards on this planet?

MY BROTHER SAYS HE’S AN ATHEIST. Is my brother going to hell because he rejects Jesus (and all religions)? He is the most giving and caring person I have ever known. He is also very knowledgeable of the Bible, Torah, and Qur’an. He has an advanced degree in religious studies and went to seminary. He said that’s what made him an atheist. I am confused. Please help. Thank you.

SEEKS CONSERVATIVE CHURCH. I am looking for a conservative Mennonite church in my area. These are my beliefs: baptism of the Holy Spirit, no TV, no movies, no sports, limited Internet (I use it only to research things and check email). [The Rempels referred him to the Beachy Amish.]

WHAT ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT? Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues is important to me! I would like to know what Mennonites believe. Do you speak in tongues? I have Mennonite neighbors and coworkers whom I love and respect. I want to know but have been reluctant to ask. I love God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for listening.

NOT HAPPY WITH LEGALISM. I attend [name withheld] Mennonite Church. My son left the church at 21 and went away from us. My other is still a member but not happy with the legalism; neither am I. I am more unhappy because I am single and [don’t have] much common ground. Their main emphasis is on outward appearance and following standards than love.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE. I’m been married two times. Can I become a member?

DIDN’T USED TO DRESS PLAIN. Recently, when looking through old family photos after my mother-in-law’s death, we had the following question. Seems like our great-grandparents (1870–1920 or so) did not dress plain. The ladies wore jewelry and fancy dresses. Then the next generation, the grandparents, were all dressed in plain clothes. Any idea what brought about this transition?

MORAL OR IMMORAL? How do Mennonites determine which sexual relationships are immoral and which are moral?

VIRGIN BIRTH? Do the Mennonites believe that Jesus was born from the virgin Mary?

VISITING YOUR ARCHIVES TODAY. We are searching for genealogy family records. Please contact me as to when we could visit your church archives. We want to visit today.

MENNONITE PRAYER BOOK? I am a senior at Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, and for my final exam in my religion class, I am doing a presentation on the Mennonite faith. I would like to include some traditional Mennonite prayers in my presentation, and I was wondering if some may be suggested to me.

WANTS A RIVER BRETHREN BONNET. Can you tell me where we might purchase a traditional Old Order River Brethren bonnet? So far we’ve seen several pictures, but nowhere to obtain one. It would be a good and modest bonnet for a woman attending prayer services.

Third Way is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada through the office of MennoMedia, with current major website sponsors Everence and Mennonite Mission Network.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

for more information on the news release
Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

Sarah and Mandy, books 7 and 8 of Ellie’s People, released

SarahJanuary 13, 2016
News release

Sarah and Mandy, books 7 and 8 of Ellie’s People, released
Herald Press republishes Mary Christner Borntrager books

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—The popular series of Amish novels for young readers, Ellie’s People, continues with the rerelease of books 7 and 8, Sarah and Mandy, from Herald Press. The series, enjoyed by all ages, has sold more than half a million copies. Author Mary Christner Borntrager grew up Amish and drew on her own experience for these classic stories of faith and Amish life.

In Sarah, Sarah Troyer finds her peaceful Amish childhood disrupted by difficulty. Her mother is ill and the family’s hired help treats Sarah unfairly. When two tragedies hit Sarah’s family, they threaten to overwhelm Sarah’s trust in God. Sarah is faced with a choice: to let grief and resentment triumph, or to find her way to a new place of hope and love.

MandyBook 8, Mandy, follows the story of Mandy Schrock. Mandy’s brother has special needs, and many in the Amish community love and care for him. But Mandy finds herself caught between caring for her brother and dealing with some who tease him. When calamity strikes, Mandy wonders if she is to blame. Guilt and grief bring questions, but God’s grace and redemption provide a counterpoint as Mandy learns through her experience.

Fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series are one audience for the family saga of Ellie’s People, with its traditional communities and courageous characters who face adversity. Earlier books in the series—Ellie, Rebecca, Rachel, Reuben, Polly, and Andy—are also available from Herald Press. The new editions of Ellie’s People feature updated language for today’s readers. Each book includes a family tree for the series and a Pennsylvania Dutch language glossary.

Mary Christner Borntrager was born to Amish parents near Plain City, Ohio. She based the stories of Ellie’s People on the people and places of her Old Order Amish childhood and youth. Always a storyteller, she turned those skills to writing these family novels of faith.

Sarah and Mandy are available for $9.99 USD/$11.49 CAD each from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

for more information on the news release
Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

 

 

Exploring Abundant Faith: Herald Press releases women’s Bible study series

BountifulHeartsJanuary 13, 2016
News release

Exploring Abundant Faith
Herald Press releases women’s Bible study series

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—Courage. Generosity. Abundance. These and other positive aspects of Christian faith are explored in the new Herald Press women’s Bible study series, Abundant Faith.

Herald Press has released four titles in this new study series. Using Abundant Faith as a guide, women can revitalize their faith and connect with God and each other through theme-centered studies that relate to everyday life. Each of the four titles includes 12 Bible study sessions and one closing worship service.

Money is the new “taboo topic,” some say. Bountiful Hearts opens the Scriptures as they talk about money and what we should do with it. The Bible shows us money through God’s eyes—on loan to us, and to be used as a blessing for all. This study helps readers explore the temptations of money, and how we can use money to reflect God’s bountiful sharing.

Courageous Women uncovers stories of biblical women who were unflinching in the face of difficulty. From the Old and New Testaments, the author draws stories both familiar and less familiar of women following God faithfully. These women speak boldly, seek justice, and prove themselves brave partners and friends in faith. Their inspiring stories are a biblical foundation modern Christians can turn to when facing the challenges of the day.

God is the great Giver. Generous Gifts is the third book in the Abundant Faith series. God’s lavish generosity in creation, healing, and relationships becomes an example to us. In gratitude, we join with God to offer healing and hope. Each chapter of the study considers one of God’s gifts: the Spirit; freedom; the spiritual gifts; grace; and more. The book offers opportunities for Bible study participants to together look at ways to share these divine gifts with others.

To offer supportive care to others, we first need to care for ourselves. Wonderfully Made uses the Bible as resource as participants consider how to care for their bodies, minds, and spirits. Chapters such as “Walk in the Way,” “Rest for Your Souls,” and “Seek Wisdom” lead into discussions of faith-centered personal wholeness and right living.

Each of these paperbacks come from earlier Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada Women’s Bible studies and are now being offered beyond the Mennonite churches. They are available for $9.99 USD/$11.99 CAD, with more information and ordering available at 800-245-7894 or at www.heraldpress.com.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

Bonus! These books are also currently listed in a Goodreads giveaway through these links (deadline for entering January 26, 2016). One copy given away in each category.

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for more information on the news release
Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org