New devotional book by Mennonite Girls Can Cook authors

Bread for the Journey launches in conjunction with theatrical production

BreadForTheJourneyHARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—In a gift-style volume, the women who contribute to the popularity of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog and cookbook series have authored devotionals, recipes, and family stories for a new devotional book.

Bread for the Journey: Meditations and Recipes to Nourish the Soul is a hardback collection of 90 meditations. (The new title is also available as an ebook.)

The meditations, all drawn from promises in Scripture, focus on helping readers strengthen their relationship with God by savoring everyday moments. Interspersed with the devotionals are dramatic family stories and favorite recipes, inviting users to extend their tables in hospitality and share God’s blessing with others.

Bread for the Journey will minister to every part of you: body, soul, and spirit. Every woman needs it!” writes Linda Dillow, author of Calm My Anxious Heart and Satisfy My Thirsty Soul.

Janice Dick, novelist, says, “Between the beautifully bound covers of Bread for the Journey lies a collection of life lessons, from everyday occurrences to miraculous deliverance: pictures of faith, forgiveness, and hope.”

The 10 authors include coordinator Lovella Schellenberg, along with (alphabetically) Ellen Bayles, Marg Bartel, Anneliese Friesen, Bev Klassen, Julie Klassen, Kathy McLellan, Betty Reimer, Charlotte, Penner, and Judy Wiebe.

This is the first book release from the Mennonite Girls since 2013, timed to coincide with the opening in the United States of comedy production by Blue Gate Musicals, Mennonite Girls Can Cook!

Many of the 10 authors plan to attend the Mennonite Girls Can Cook! comedy at both Blue Gate Theatre in Shipshewana, Indiana, and Ohio Star Theater in Walnut Creek, Ohio, this fall, and will sign copies of their new devotional and their two cookbooks, Mennonite Girls Can Cook (Herald Press, 2011) and Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations (Herald Press, 2013).

The producer of the comedy is Dan Posthuma, president and executive producer of Blue Gate Musicals; script writer is Martha Bolton, a former comedy writer for Bob Hope along with hundreds of other shows, including five hit Broadway-style musicals about Mennonites or Amish. The Mennonite Girls comedy is a one-act play and centers on a small-town cable TV cooking show, hosted by two Mennonite women, that attracts the attention of a Hollywood producer.

Lovella Schellenberg coordinates the blog and accompanying books, and lives in western British Columbia. Nine of the women live in Canada and one resides in the United States. They have appeared on numerous Canadian television segments, and donate all their author royalties to nourish children around the world.

Bread for the Journey is available for $16.99 USD from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 and www.MennoMedia.org, as well as other websites and local bookstores. The book is being published August 2, 2016.

MennoMedia Staff, July 27, 2016

High-resolution photos available.

 For more information from Herald Press:

Melodie Davis
News manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@MennoMedia.org

A Magnifying Glass for the Future

I keep a very cheap child’s magnifying glass on my desk. It’s the remnant prop that I used in co-leading a workshop last May. It never quite got put away and now gets moved around. But sometimes I pick it up and hold it as I sit and think, or it will catch my eye during Skype meetings.

Magnify

These past weeks I’ve tried to get out my own crystal ball and think more about the future of Christian formation in congregations.

Shine: Living in God’s Light is the curriculum produced by MennoMedia and Brethren Press for ages three through grade eight. It’s in its first quarter of use and we are already asking ourselves, What’s next?

Yes, you read that correctly: while Sunday school teachers are finishing off this first quarter of Shine, we are making plans for three years from now.

What follows is a smattering of tidbits that have piqued my attention on this topic in the last few weeks.

  • Thom Schultz, founder of Group Publishing, had a provocative post this week on the “Rise of the Dones.” This post—and the research it’s drawn from—make the case that “to an increasing degree, the church is losing its best” to no church at all. There is a growing legion of people, many of whom are boomers, who have devoted their lives to the church. They have been trustees, elders, lay leaders, Sunday school teachers, church clean-up day pros, and now legions of them are done with church. If this trend continues, what is the future of faith formation for any age in the church? Schultz’s post is based on the research in a forthcoming book called Church Refugees, by Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope (June 2015).
  • Some 76% of Protestant churches surveyed two years ago* reported that they are using technology more in the church and in Sunday school. Let’s face it, technology is changing the ways we learn. I heard at the grocery story yesterday that second graders are getting tablets in schools, for example. Publishers have jumped on this trend, but many of these efforts have not been the hoped-for successes. Mostly I hear stories of publishers marrying great technology with curriculum only to have abysmal sales. Is it because users want technology for free? We’re all too happy to download the free app but are we loathe to pay for the curriculum that goes along with it?
  • Congregations want the same outcomes from children’s Sunday school that they have wanted for the last 100 years: for children to choose to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When Mennonite congregations were surveyed two years ago* about their most desired outcomes for children’s Sunday school, this was the number one answer, followed by “understand God better.” And yet we know that the Sunday school books from that era don’t make sense for today.
    MennoMedia Survey Report (FINAL)
  • Christian educator John Roberto has written about the convergence of four forces that influence faith formation today. Given the four forces below, how do we at MennoMedia develop ways to help congregations inform, form, and transform faith (to use Roberto’s words) given this changing context?
    • Greater diversity in society and congregation
    • New Internet, communication and learning technologies
    • The emergence of connected, networked societies (moving from a grouped society to networked individualism)
    • Twenty-first century models of learning
  • Beth Barnett is exploring the paradigm shift in children’s ministry and asking what needs to change and what the future will look like. In this post she addresses how the Christian church has lost the practice and skills of being together—of how we have become consumers of church rather than contributors. Instead of harkening back to the days of yore, Barnett gives ideas for changing the script and offers new and refreshing ways to be the church together. I’m especially intrigued with her ideas about “who owns worship” and how we can prepare for all age worship that is different than simply offering a sermon for adults and a children’s story for children.

It’s an exciting time to be thinking about faith formation for congregations, and what the future will hold.

What are your predictions? What do you think the future of children’s faith formation should look like? Hopefully it will look as joyful as this child holding her copy of the Shine On story Bible!

Aleesia Alderfer with Shine On Children's Bible Storybook

Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich

 

 

* The survey referred to in this post was commissioned by the Protestant Church-owned Publishers Association, of which MennoMedia is a member. All Mennonite churches were asked to participate in this survey.

Pandemic Fears, Realistic Response

Ebola. The word alone in a news headline is enough to make me want to click and read more.

Ebola_in-post-300x168

And the media certainly know how to play off my fears. All they have to do is insert the word crisis and they know they’ve got me.

ebola-crisis

I live in suburban Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron—very close to the area where Dallas nurse Amber Vinson visited last weekend before she was diagnosed with Ebola. A few area schools have been closed and cleaned “out of an abundance of caution”; a bridal store she visited has been closed; and Vinson’s friends and family who had direct contact with her are being quarantined for 21 days (including three who work on the same college campus as my spouse). My husband got a notice about it at work, my younger daughter’s daycare sent home a notice, the pediatrician asked about possible exposure when I called to make an appointment, there’s a countywide Ebola hotline, the list goes on.

It feels to me like level of panic in this area is at an all-time high.

I don’t want to bury my head in the sand here and skip the news altogether, but I also need to be realistic: it’s more likely at this point that I’m going to die from a car accident or the flu than Ebola. There is a very real Ebola outbreak, but right now it’s in West Africa.

How do I manage my own personal fears while also working to help solve the problem? This was my quandary late last week when I remembered a series of resources MennoMedia developed a few years ago about pandemic preparedness.

Back in 2009, medical authorities were warning that the world was due to suffer a flu virus on a global scale, equal to or greater than the international pandemic of 1918. They warned that, despite our advanced medical technology, thousands of people would die and many more would become sick. People would fear for their health. Naturally, people would want to protect themselves.

So we at MennoMedia considered: How would the church respond to a pandemic? Do we have a plan? Will we retreat in fear, or are we ready to be God’s light in the midst of suffering?

We developed a series of pandemic preparedness resources. It has three parts:

beyond our fears lg cover.qxp beyond our fears sg cover.qxp Dont Be Afraid cover.qxp

The Beyond Our Fears guide is designed to be part of a congregational study series, but it can also be a personal resource for inspiration and learning.

This series was written not to raise our fears, but to do the exact opposite: to prepare the church to shine as God’s light in the midst of such crises, to respond to our call to be people of healing and hope. Even if these crises never occur, the resources (especially the ones for adults) will help us think through our mission as Christians and how God calls us to join the work of healing and hope in our families, neighborhoods, and world.

Most of us would rather not think about worst-case scenarios such as Ebola in Ohio (or anywhere else, for that matter), a new flu pandemic, or devastating hurricanes or tornadoes. But governments and municipalities are creating plans to be prepared for each of these crises. So shouldn’t we, as ordinary people of faith, be spiritually prepared? Why not know before the crisis what kinds of actions and attitudes are most consistent with our faith? Why not think together about how is God calling us to be good stewards of the future? Let’s face it: crisis has always been a fact of human existence on this planet, and it can hit without warning.

Because these pandemic preparedness resources are perfect for such a time as this, MennoMedia is offering 20% off any of the three titles this week. Just use code BEYOND14 at checkout. I encourage you to take advantage of the sale and to consider these issues with your congregation.

Now to part 2: the matter of stopping and controlling Ebola in West Africa. There are so many inspiring stories of what’s being done in Africa. But, as experts warn us, more work needs to be done to contain and control this virus. Dollars are needed—quickly—to aid in this work. In the last week on the news or in my Facebook feed, I’ve heard of people giving to the following organizations. Click on the name of the organization to make your own contribution.

Manage your fears; make a donation. That’s my recipe for realism and action amidst worst-case scenario reporting.

How are you coping with fears of Ebola or other crises? If you have children, how are you talking about Ebola with your children? Has your congregation used any of these resources?

Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich