Amish Prayers coloring book uses early Anabaptist prayers

February 22, 2017
News release

Amish Prayers coloring book uses early Anabaptist prayers
Herald Press offers second devotional coloring book

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Last fall, Herald Press took its first step into the world of adult devotional coloring books with Beloved Amish and Mennonite Quilts. Its latest addition to the field, Amish Prayers, offers fraktur drawings and thoughtful, contemplative prayers from Anabaptist history. The collection will be released April 4, 2017.

The 43 prayers are translated and adapted from Die ernsthafte Christenpflicht (Prayer Book for Earnest Christians, first published in 1708), a traditional Amish prayer book which grew from prayers of Anabaptists in the 1500s and 1600s, and still used by Amish folks today.

In the coloring book, each prayer is presented on the left side of each spread along with a related Bible verse and room for journaling. On the facing page is an illustration to color, incorporating a key phrase from the accompanying prayer using fraktur, a type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Lynn Sommer, an artist and member of Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, created each coloring page. Pages tear out easily if users want to display or give away their artwork.

“My ink and watercolor paintings are often inspired by traditional Swiss Mennonite and Pennsylvania German fraktur motifs from my heritage,” Sommer said. “The fraktur form drew me in as a young child because there was something sacred in the combination of names, dates, and sacred events such as baptisms and births recognized within the faith community. The folk art images in fraktur show a beautiful union between art and religion.”

The designs are symmetrical and often repetitive, aiding prayerful contemplation of a central idea. Some are more realistic and some more abstract, and many are a mixture of both, according to the artist. The designs frequently implement nature images of birds, flowers, plants, and the sun.

Sommer says that the process of creating the illustrations was “an artistic and spiritual discipline intertwined. I would first read the prayer, focus on the designated short phrase to be incorporated into the design, browse early fraktur designs, turn on contemplative music, then begin sketching.”

The book’s preface is written by an Old Order Amish woman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who prefers that her name not be used. In the preface, she recounts fond memories of her father praying these prayers aloud and writes about how meaningful it is to pray prayers written centuries ago by Anabaptist Christians undergoing severe persecution.

In reflecting on the process of creating the art for Amish Prayers, Sommer concluded, “I am grateful for the spiritual pilgrimage this project has brought into my life. I am hopeful for coloring book connoisseurs as they embark on their spiritual journey with the Amish Prayers coloring book.”

Amish Prayers is available for $12.99 USD from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores and online retailers.

MennoMedia intern Luisa Miller
High resolution photo available

For sample copies or questions, please contact:
LeAnn Hamby
Marketing Manager
Herald Press
(540) 908-3941 LeAnnH@mennomedia.org

 

Worship and Song Committee begins selection process

Worship and Song Committee met in Elkhart, Indiana in early February. Two previous directors of hymnal projects are seated in center front, Mary Oyer and Rebecca Slough.

News Release: February 9, 2017

Worship and Song Committee begins selection process

Subcommittees tasked with evaluating and tagging hymnal content

ELKHART, INDIANA— Practically speaking, how does a group of 13 people review thousands of pieces of music and worship resources in the next three years? This was the focus of conversation February 2–5, 2017, when the 13-member Mennonite Worship and Song Committee met in Elkhart, Indiana, at the offices of Mennonite Church USA.

To accomplish the giant task before them, the committee has divided into subcommittees organized into two tiers: content and delivery; and contemporary and intercultural worship. The subcommittees began evaluating and tagging content that fits the vision of the project.

“This meeting helped address questions about where we see the collection moving,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director and general editor. “A clear structure helps us choose the content for this new hymnal.”

The committee includes Kauffman and Karen Gonzol, editorial assistant, as staff, plus 12 volunteers: Adam Tice, text editor; Benjamin Bergey, music editor; Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor. The remainder of the committee includes Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Paul Dueck, Mike Erb, Katie Graber, Emily Grimes, Tom Harder, SaeJin Lee, Anneli Loepp Thiessen, and Cynthia Neufeld Smith.

“This is a highly committed group of volunteers,” said Amy Gingerich, editorial director at MennoMedia who serves ex-officio on the committee. “The subcommittees really jelled around their shared purpose.”

Bradley Kauffman, project director, flanked by Rebecca Slough, left and Mary Oyer, right, key personnel for 1992 and 1969 hymnal collections, respectively.

Meeting highlights were an afternoon tea with Rebecca Slough and Mary Oyer, key figures in previous collections, including Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992) and Mennonite Hymnal (1969), and a session with David Eicher, who served as general editor for Presbyterian Publishing on its recent hymnal, Glory to God (2013). The group has plans to engage other leaders who have shaped Mennonite hymnody in future meetings.

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is working toward a 2020 release of a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in cooperation with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. To submit content for consideration, visit http://mennoniteworshipandsongcollection.org/.

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

 

 

 

Follow Jesus by embracing upside-down values

News Release
February 3, 2017

Follow Jesus by embracing upside-down values
Six-part series explores living out a countercultural faith          

HARRISONBURG, Va.—It is easy for Christians to lose touch with God in the routine of everyday life. Herald Press has created Upside-Down Living, a six-part Bible study series that engages participants with questions about how to live out one’s Christian faith in ways that seem upside down in today’s culture. All are to be released in the first half of 2017.

The first two texts, each with six sessions, will be released February 7: Sabbath, by Anita Amstutz, discusses different perspectives on Sabbath and the benefits of practicing it in our fast-paced lives. Technology, by Becca J. R. Lachman, explores how to use technology responsibly in today’s changing world.

The next two studies in the series will be published April 4. Money uses biblical Jubilee economic practices to look at how we can use our money to further God’s kingdom. Identity and Aging explores how to age well and faithfully between different stages of life, as well as the changes in identity that accompany them. These studies are written by Leonard M. Dow and Eleanor Snyder, respectively.

The final two studies in the series will come out June 6: Violence discusses how to be peacekeepers in a violent world and is written by J. Fred Kauffman. Sharing Faith Stories, by April Yamasaki, helps readers learn how to use their own stories to share their faith.

Intended for small group Bible studies or adult Sunday school classes—and especially for busy Christians who may not feel they have time to study for a lesson—the series strives to explore modern, relevant themes with whomever shows up on a given Sunday.

According to Mary Ann Weber, managing editor of Upside-Down Living, a goal of the series was to “create practical studies that will challenge and inspire people to live their faith on a daily basis.” Topics were selected because “they are matters people regularly face,” said Weber. “We hope that by addressing them, people will be compelled to dig into Scripture to see how it connects with our lives today.”

The chapters are short and include visuals and easy-to-understand language. Each session uses Scripture references to address a specific theme within the topic of the study and discusses its connection to current life using anecdotes, analogies, and discussion of today’s culture. The guides include a discussion questions that invite readers to discuss or journal about their thoughts and to apply the lesson to their own lives.

The books in the Upside-Down Living series are available from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894, the MennoMedia webstore at www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources.

MennoMedia Intern Luisa Miller
High resolution photo available

For sample copies or questions:
Contact LeAnn Hamby
Marketing Manager
Herald Press
(540) 908-3941 LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.