Welcome Neighbor Sign Inspires Thousands

By Steve Carpenter

Have you seen the “Welcome Your Neighbor” sign with its three bright colors in three languages?

There are now more than 100,000 signs in yards and storefronts across the U.S. and Canada. Its message of welcome and hospitality, started by Mennonites in Harrisonburg, VA, has been inspiring thousands. It showed up on HuffPost, NPR, Relevant Magazine, and scores of local news outlets. There was even a news outlet in Spain reporting on the sign’s popularity.

 A United Church of Christ congregation in Lancaster, PA celebrated Pentecost by transformed the image of the signs into doves representing the Holy Spirit’s descent.

  When the Democratic and Republican primaries were just beginning in the summer of 2016, my small congregation, Immanuel Mennonite Church (IMC) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, decided to put up a sign proclaiming our shared value of welcoming foreigners. The wording for the sign came from our pastor Matthew Bucher and it was hand painted by another member of the congregation, Melissa Howard.

IMC’s neighbors speak many languages, but primarily English, Spanish and Arabic. Matthew said, “I hope that the sign is a marker to the community. And, I hope that folks leaving IMC after a service are reminded of who we are to be.”

Mennonites, as followers of Jesus, have traditionally refused to take up arms in self-defense or in national defense. Some have also chosen not to vote, deciding rather to remain separate from the political process. During the 2016 election Pastor Matthew Bucher at IMC, encouraged those in his faith community to put out a “We are glad you’re our neighbor” sign rather than a politically partisan sign. My wife and I put one in our front yard in August, 2016 and its still there.


While some in the U.S. government continue to press to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, fear of immigrants continues. Yet, others refuse to give in to fear but rather reach out in love. Matthew 25:35 reminds us that when we welcome others our heavenly Father will reward us. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

The sign is now available in 16 different language combinations. All are free to down-load and can be printed locally without infringing on any copyrights. You can also buy these signs and other “Welcome Your Neighbor” products online. Click here to link to the “Welcome Neighbors” site affiliated with Immanuel Mennonite Church, who originated this idea. 

If you have a sign in your yard and a story to tell post it here on the official “Welcome Neighbors Sign” FB page.

In January, 2018, we at MennoMedia will be publishing a Herald Press book on immigration titled Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World, by Sarah Quezada. We hope to encourage people to look beyond their fears and respond to immigrants, even undocumented ones, with love.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations

Announcing Great Day of Singing October 22

News Release: August 22, 2017

Announcing Great Day of Singing October 22
Worship and Song Committee Releases First Sampler

HARRISONBURG, Va.—A 16-page sampler of the new Mennonite worship and song collection is available for free congregational download. Called the “Great Day of Singing,” the sampler is designed as a resource to plan worship for October 22, 2017.

This one-day event is planned by the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee as a way for individuals and congregations to sample some new music and worship resources, and to provide feedback to the committee.

“We want to bring Mennonites together around some new songs and worship resources while opening up a space for worshipers to reflect on God’s gift of song,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director and general editor. “The sampler offers six songs from outside our current collections along with worship resources and a proposed framework for planning.”

Resonate is the name chosen to channel enthusiasm for the new Mennonite worship and song collection. A 13-member committee is working toward the 2020 release of a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in cooperation with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

Physical copies of the Great Day of Singing sampler were mailed to each congregation in MC Canada and MC USA, and were given out this summer at MennoMedia’s booth during the MC USA convention in Orlando.

Congregations may download additional copies at MennoMedia.org/Resonate. In addition to the 16-page sampler, links to selected accompaniments, tutorial videos, and an image inspired by the Psalms are available for free download. A survey for congregational feedback on the sampler is posted as well.

“The Great Day of Singing sampler is the first of several anticipated collections for testing new material. Plus it includes information on the new worship and song collection—with some rough projections about what this will cost congregations. We encourage churches to plan and budget now for this new collection,” said Amy Gingerich, editorial director at MennoMedia.

“We hope to be able to post pictures and feedback from congregations on the Resonate Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds,” Kauffman added.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540-908-3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

Executive director of MennoMedia and book imprint Herald Press plans to resign

News release
August 11, 2017

Executive director of MennoMedia and book imprint Herald Press plans to resign

Russ Eanes

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Russ Eanes has announced his intention to resign as executive director of MennoMedia and its book imprint Herald Press, effective early 2018.

Eanes was named executive director to lead MennoMedia in 2011, when the new organization was formed from a merger of Mennonite Publishing Network and Third Way Media and set up its headquarters in Harrisonburg.

Under Eanes’s leadership the organization expanded and revitalized its Herald Press book imprint, which saw a 20 percent increase in sales for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017.

In recent years the organization has copublished a new children’s Sunday school curriculum called Shine: Living in God’s Light. A highlight of that ongoing curriculum, copublished with Brethren Press, has been the successful launch of the Shine On story Bible.

Last year MennoMedia began work on a new worship and song collection, scheduled to be published in 2020.

Eanes has been keen on learning from peers and translating best practices in publishing to the ongoing work of MennoMedia and Herald Press.

Previously an ordained pastor, Eanes first begin specific work in trade book publishing with Plough Publishing 20 years ago. “Serving as publisher first with Plough and these past six years with Herald Press and MennoMedia has been one of the dreams of my lifetime,” said Eanes. “I love the business of publishing, being able to take an author or writer’s ideas and put them between covers, to work with creative editors, designers, and marketers,” he said of his work. He has also enjoyed in recent years collaboration with constituents and leaders across the Mennonite church in North America and abroad. “I will miss the many valued relationships with colleagues in other Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada organizations, area conferences and agencies. I will especially miss working with the wonderful staff that it has been my privilege to lead over the past six years.”

Eanes started at what was then Mennonite Publishing Network in 2007 as director of finance and operations. He oversaw the merger of MPN and Third Way Media and the relocation from Scottdale, Pennsylvania, to Harrisonburg. Eanes is currently president of the Protestant Church-Owned Publishers Association, a group representing the major denominational publishing houses in North America. “I especially have enjoyed getting to know and exchange ideas with my peers in other publishing houses,” said Eanes.

We are grateful for Russ’s deep commitment for producing quality resources for living Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective,” said Lee Schmucker, chair of the MennoMedia board. “Russ has implemented many best practices in a fast-changing publishing industry, resulting in transformation of operations and marketing.”

Schmucker noted that under Eanes’s leadership, Christian formation resources and the Herald Press imprint have been strengthened and the market expanded beyond Mennonite churches and members. “Through his ardent attention to streamlining operations, overhead has been reduced and debt has been eliminated. Russ has served MennoMedia well during his 10 years of dedicated service,” she stated.

Going forward, MennoMedia’s management team and board are carefully considering how to reconfigure the organization to meet the changing demands of the church and the changing environment in publishing. The board and management will be meeting face to face at the end of September to finalize plans for leadership succession.

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MennoMedia Staff
Melodie Davis, news manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org