Herald Press Anabaptist prayer book now available on app

Nov. 21, 2017

Mobile app extends global reach of Herald Press Anabaptist prayer book
Format and versatility appeal to users across cultures and Christian traditions

By Annette Brill Bergstresser

ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — Users in 15 countries across six continents have downloaded a new free mobile app version of Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book in the four weeks since its launch on Oct. 23.

The app contains the entire text of both print volumes of the prayer book — Ordinary Time and Advent through Pentecost — which were published in 2007 and 2010 by Herald Press in collaboration with the Institute of Mennonite Studies (IMS), the research agency of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana.

“In its new electronic guise, Take Our Moments is a resource for people on the go and for ad hoc groups,” said Eleanor Kreider, an author and former long-term mission worker in the United Kingdom who was part of the editorial group that developed the prayer books at AMBS over a period of seven years. “Being able to offer the content via a free app also removes barriers of cost and shipping.”

Kreider noted that the morning and evening prayer services — whose Anabaptist “flavor” is conveyed through the predominance of Jesus’ voice, space for communal reflection on Scripture, and the choices of Bible readings — have appealed to users across various cultures, languages and Christian traditions.

Members of the AMBS community gather in the Chapel of the Word for weekly prayers with Take Our Moments and Our Days, an Anabaptist prayer book published by Herald Press in collaboration with the Institute of Mennonite Studies. (Credit: Annette Brill Bergstresser)

She recalled a time when she and her late husband, Alan Kreider, were asked to lead morning prayers for an ecumenical workshop and chose to use the prayer book.
“We were astonished at the universal delight in Take Our Moments,” she said. “The Anglicans recognized the overall structure of the Daily Office, the Baptists liked the emphasis on biblical words, the Pentecostals felt at home with the free prayers and the Mennonites loved to pray through the songs.”

The Ordinary Time volume — which contains a four-week cycle of prayers based on the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, Jesus’ parables and Jesus’ miracles — has been published in French and Korean. Kreider is aware of German, Spanish, Lithuanian and Japanese Christians who are using the services, too.

She said she has heard many reports of both individual and corporate uses of the prayer services, from committee meeting devotions, morning worship for small congregations and pastoral prayers to personal and small-group prayer times.

“A married couple who had never prayed together because of differing pieties found they could now do so, using the prayer book, because it provided both prescribed biblical wordings and places for free prayers,” she said.

She added that families who have never held devotions have told her that the prayer book has enabled them to enjoy reading Scripture and praying together, with school-age children helping lead and younger ones offering their own prayers of thanks and petitions.

“Also, young people who are embarrassed to pray aloud in free fashion have responded positively to the format,” she said. “Several voices can lead, and the petitions can be filled in with simple words or silence.”

IMS Managing Editor Barb Nelson Gingerich, who oversaw development of the app, said that users of the print volumes had been asking for a digital version. Gifts from several donors, including the Anabaptist Foundation in Vancouver, British Columbia, made it possible for IMS to contract with James Stuckey Weber to design it. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices.

The app’s settings enable users to select which version of a doxology, a scriptural canticle and the Lord’s Prayer they wish to use, Gingerich said. Both the books and the app identify songs of praise and response to the readings in each service. (The books include musical settings composed by James Clemens of repeated parts of the services.) Introductory materials and indexes are also included.

Gingerich said she finds it easy to use the app in orienting newcomers to the prayer practice. For more than a decade, she and her husband, James Nelson Gingerich, have hosted weekday morning prayer services in their Goshen, Indiana, home using the prayer book.

“Usually we’re helping newcomers find their way with ribbons, flipping pages, etc., all the way through, but the app is user friendly and easy to navigate,” she said. “Everything you need is in one place.”

Currently the app is only available in English, she noted.

“Right now, the app is pretty basic,” Gingerich said. “When it is used more widely, we’d like to get a sense of what people would value in terms of enhancements.”

Ron Ringenberg, AMBS vice president and CFO, is a prayer book user who said he was “a big proponent” of the digital version. He’s excited about the portability and accessibility of the app and said he plans to use it with his small group and also when traveling.

“The idea of making use of the intelligence of the smartphone for this purpose makes a whole lot of sense,” he said. “I’m thankful that there are individuals who thought it worthy to fund the development of the app.”

Marty Troyer, pastor of Houston Mennonite Church: The Church of the Sermon on the Mount, is another prayer book user who has welcomed the app version.

“Over the years the Anabaptist Prayer Book has shaped how I see myself as a Christ-follower, energized my public witness as a peacemaker and aligned me over and again with the God of love and shalom justice,” he said. “What is my identity in Christ? Who and how is God in the world? And how can I use my best gifts to join God in spreading that beautiful good news? The Anabaptist Prayer Book eases us from the stuck pattern of prayer as list to prayer as becoming.” Troyer is the author of another Herald Press book, The Gospel Next Door, published in 2016.

Suggestions for enhancements to “Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer App” can be sent to Institute of Mennonite Studies (ims@ambs.edu). To learn more, see www.ambs.edu/prayerbook.

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AMBS educates leaders from a variety of Anabaptist and other Christian traditions, both on campus and at a distance. Areas of focus in the seminary’s master’s degree programs include pastoral ministry, chaplaincy, Christian formation, theology and peace studies, conflict transformation, international development and environmental sustainability leadership. More than 2,500 alumni serve as church, organizational and community leaders in Elkhart County and around the world. Learn more: ambs.edu

AMBS news contact
Annette Brill Bergstresser, abbergstresser@ambs.edu, 574.343.6709

This article also appears online where it was originally released: www.ambs.edu/news-events/news/1622837/mobile-app-extends-global-reach-of-anabaptist-prayer-book

Perry Yoder beams fresh light on ancient text of Leviticus

October 19, 2017

News release

Perry Yoder beams fresh light on ancient text of Leviticus
Volume 33 in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series rolls out

HARRISONBURG, Va.—In the 33rd volume of the Believers Church Bible Commentary series, Old Testament scholar Perry B. Yoder argues that the oft-neglected book of Leviticus illuminates valuable truths and symbols that appear in the New Testament.

Writing for pastors, laypersons, and scholars alike, Yoder uses recent scholarship “to encounter a gracious and holy God,” as endorser Melissa Florer-Bixler, pastor of Raleigh (N.C.) Mennonite Church, puts it.

Yoder examines the central question of : how God’s people are to live in light of God’s presence just outside their camp. “How do we begin to worship God? Where do we start?” writes Yoder. “Leviticus begins with rituals for pleasing God. This unadorned beginning reminds us that worship begins with God and our relationship to God, and not with ourselves.” The commentary portrays God as gracious, holy, and present. Leviticus, according to Yoder, unfurls critical characteristics of God in relation to humanity. In the commentary, Yoder traverses difficult interpretive territory such as the sacrificial system, purity laws, and priestly instructions.

David Janzen, associate professor of Old Testament at Durham University, says that Yoder’s commentary will help both pastors and laypersons who are “seeking to understand what can seem like a puzzling but fascinating biblical book.”

Gerald Gerbrandt, president emeritus and professor emeritus of Bible at Canadian Mennonite University, writes, “A consummate teacher, [Yoder has] a singular gift for illuminating the biblical text with an eye to how it informs the church today.”

Yoder is professor emeritus of Old Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. His key interests are the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms; ecological responsibility; and peace and justice. He worked as People’s Teacher of the Word, traveling across North America doing Bible teaching, 1975–77; as associate secretary for Peace and Social Concerns for the General Conference Mennonite Church, 1977–78; and taught at Bluffton, Bethel, and Conrad Grebel Colleges before coming to AMBS in 1985. He retired in 2005 but continues to teach Anabaptist Short Courses online.

The Believers Church Bible Commentary series is a cooperative project of the Brethren in Christ Church, Brethren Church, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

The commentary is available for purchase from MennoMedia for $29.99 (paperback) and $23.99 (ebook) from 800‑245‑7894, the MennoMedia webstore at www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

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

—Staff release

Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540‑574‑4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

 

Worship and Song Collection Project Fund-raising Update by Steve Carpenter

MennoMedia, on behalf of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, is working to create a new Mennonite hymnal by 2020. I have been tasked with raising more than $600,000 to pay for the work of a 13-person hymnal committee, a full-time project director, a half-time administrative assistant and other support staff and services. We’re off to a good start.

Bradley Kauffman began work as the Project Director in July 2016 and later that summer 13 others were appointed to serve with him on the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee.

This committee includes persons from both Canada and the US.

The committee has met several times, most recently at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan, in early September. (Read a recent report on their work here.) The committee has enjoyed frequent contact and mentorship from Mary Oyer, Rebecca Slough, Kenneth Nafziger, Marilyn Houser Hamm, Marlene Kropf and other veterans of previous hymnal projects beyond the Mennonite Church.

As I meet with individuals, inviting them to support this endeavor financially, I am sometimes asked “Why do we need a new hymnal?” In short, refreshing a worship and song collection once a generation is one of the cycles of a forward-looking church. Hymnals are of a generational moment. They mark a particular threshold showing where the church has been and where the spirit of God may be leading. They hold comfort and nostalgia while leaning earnestly to challenge and prophetic action. As the urgencies of church life and identity shift from generation to generation, worship rhythms respond to this Spirit-movement.

The Mennonite Hymnal (red) was published in 1969.

 

 

 

 

The blue Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB) was released in 1992.

That is a span of 23 years between the red and blue hymnals, both of which were developed before the digital age. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hymnal: A Worship Book and it will be another three years until a new hymnal is available. A new generation of spirit-led, prophetic church music has been written in the last quarter century. The way the church uses music is also changing. Available electronic formats will help the new collection meet the needs of twenty-first century worshipers. Many of our faith communities are expressing eager anticipation of this forthcoming resource.

The new hymnal will retain durable material from HWB and the two supplements, Sing the Journey (2005) and Sing the Story (2007), while introducing new music and worship resources geared for the 21st century church.

Those who give a gift of at least $500 toward this project, between now and 2019, will have 40 characters (including spaces) in the back of the hymnal to honor a loved one, include a snippet from a hymn or a favorite verse of Scripture. Persons may also include their own names or give anonymously. To date we have raised nearly $370,000 in gifts and faith promises or 61% of the $606,000 goal. Larger gifts entitle the giver to 80 characters. To learn more about giving to support this important project, visit HymnalProject606.com or email me at SteveC@mennomedia.org.

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, going by the name Resonate Team, has invited congregations to hold a Great Day of Singing on Sunday October 22. Click here to view downloadable music and worship resources available for your congregation to plan worship for that day.

Thank you for your interest in this project. The Mennonite church has a rich tradition of robust congregational singing. A gift to Project 606 will help offer this legacy to the next generation.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations.