What is the essence of Anabaptism?

March 30, 2017

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

New book by Palmer Becker helps explain beliefs of Mennonites and more

HARRISONBURG, Va.—What makes Anabaptism different from other Christian traditions? According to author Palmer Becker, it can be explained by three words: Jesus. Community. Reconciliation.

In the new resource Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith (Herald Press, March 2017), Becker introduces readers to the key convictions and practices of Anabaptism. Becker is also the author of the small volume, What Is an Anabaptist Christian? now published in 20 languages.

Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his Revisionist History podcast, says of Becker’s three key words, “It’s hard to explain to an outsider how seriously the Mennonites take these three things: Jesus, community, and reconciliation.”

Publishers Weekly calls it “an easy, engaging read for those who want to learn, or be reminded of, what Christianity is all about,” adding that the section on conflict “should be assigned reading for every Christian for its clear-eyed assessment of conflict and effective nonviolent strategies for engaging and transforming it.”

In Anabaptist Essentials, Becker explains the core beliefs of Anabaptism and clearly lays out the differences that define the tradition. Becker explains, “In this book I unapologetically describe ten ways in which Anabaptist Christians are uniquely different from many, or even most, Christians. Anabaptists have often downplayed differences with other believers and highlighted similarities.” While seeking common ground is a good impulse, Becker says, “this quest for unity has also muted many of the unique qualities and strengths that the Anabaptist tradition might offer to the wider church.”

Designed for study by small groups and for use as a basic resource for Christian formation and conversation, the guide includes illustrations and discussion questions. Spanish and French editions of Anabaptist Essentials are planned for release in June 2017.

Becker is a speaker, pastor, church planter, missionary, author, and educator. A graduate of Goshen College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Regent College, and Fuller Theological Seminary, Becker most recently served as director of the Hesston College pastoral ministries program, before moving to Ontario in semi-retirement.

To schedule an interview with Palmer Becker, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

To purchase Anabaptist Essentials, check here or call 800-245-7894.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available

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

 

What does it really take for our communities to flourish?

News Release

Revised January 30, 2017

Pastor shares strategy for how real change happens in new book, Smart Compassion

HARRISONBURG, Va.— What does compassion look like when the needs seem overwhelming? What is our role in the flourishing of our community? How does such work relate to worship?

Wesley Furlong’s Smart Compassion: How to Stop “Doing Outreach” and Start Making Change (Herald Press, February 2017) calls Christians to strategic, prayerful, and biblically based approaches to compassion.

“My hope for you is that in the face of personal struggles, limited time, complex needs, and endless options, you will develop a vision for how your community can thrive,” says Furlong. The book journeys through inspiring places and thought-provoking conversations on how and where good and necessary change happens.

A common thread in Smart Compassion is the potential of healing presence, radical hospitality, and collective empowerment. When these three forces come together, Furlong says, “You’ll see new life.”

Smart compassion is the full pursuit of a community’s flourishing in a spirit of worship and prayer. Smart compassion holds together justice and evangelism, wisdom and revelation, and the broadly communal and deeply personal aspects of life.

Furlong adds that “smart compassion is, put simply, ten thousand acts of authentic compassion that are strategic, well networked, and responsive to the real needs of a defined community.”

Editorial Director Amy Gingerich says that for churches who want to make a difference but are not quite sure how, Smart Compassion offers a contagious vision and practical steps for significant change. A companion handbook is planned for release May 2017.

Wesley Furlong is the founder and director of City of Refuge, a network for community transformation, and the director of church development for EVANA, an evangelical Anabaptist network of churches across North America. Furlong holds a master’s degree in theology from Emory University and is working toward a PhD in social work. He and his wife, Bonnie, have three children as well as an ever-changing number of foster children. Connect with him at WesleyFurlong.com.

To schedule an interview with Wesley Furlong, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908-3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

Smart Compassion │ 9781513800394 │ 2/7/2017 │ $15.99 USD │ Paperback │176 pages│Herald Press

 

To purchase Smart Compassion call 800-245-7894 or go to www.HeraldPress.com