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 

Seek a simpler life through plain Mennonite writer Faith Sommers

January 18, 2017

Seek a simpler life through plain Mennonite writer Faith Sommers

90-day devotional connects quiet times with God to the rest of life

HARRISONBURG, Va.— Quiet times with God can feel disconnected from the rest of an overflowing day. Faith Sommers, a conservative Mennonite mother, wife, and columnist for Ladies Journal, a publication for Amish and Mennonite women has written a new book, Prayers for a Simpler Life: Meditations from the Heart of a Mennonite Mother due out from Herald Press, February 2017.

The book contains 90 devotionals for women to help them connect with a simpler life.

Sommers firmly believes devotions should affect how Christians live their lives. “When I realize that God knows all about everything, I learn to trust in his grace and seek to obtain his wisdom so that each choice I make will lead me closer to him,” she explains.

The devotional book also includes prayers, journal prompts, and ideas for how to simplify life and strengthen faith. Above all, the author hopes Prayers for a Simpler Life guides readers toward a deeper commitment to the way of Jesus.

“God’s goodness is not measured by the good things that come into my life,” Sommers says. “The good things do outnumber the bad, and I gratefully count my blessings. Yet, even in the setbacks, the disappointments, the sorrows, I know that God is good.”

Aimed at serious Christians who want to draw closer to God and actively serve Jesus, the book strives to put readers back in touch with many basics of Christian living. It is part of the Herald Press Plainspoken Series of books and devotionals.

Prayers for a Simpler Life includes a section “A Day in the Life of the Author,” as well as Q&A with the author answering common questions about plain Mennonites, including:

  • What is a Mennonite?
  • How do you differ from Amish?
  • Why do the women and girls wear those hats?
  • Don’t you get bored with your quiet lives?

Sommers and her husband, Paul, live in California and have six children between the ages of 6 and 21.

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

Prayers for a Simpler Life │ 9781513801261 │ 2/21/2017 │ $12.99 USD │ Paperback │200 pages│Herald Press

Third Way’s 2016 Top 10 Quirky Queries

News Release
December 21, 2016

Third Way’s 2016 Top 10 Quirky Queries
Bonus list: Top 10 questions worth pondering

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ont.—Many millions of people will never pick up a book or magazine about Mennonites or enter any Mennonite church. But they will drop in anonymously to Third Way website (thirdway.com) to get a quick glimpse of what Mennonites are about.

Erwin and Angela Rempel, who previously worked many years in mission settings around the globe and for church agencies in the United States, volunteer for MennoMedia and responded to 60 to 70 email queries this past year, sometimes with multiple follow-ups. The site averages more than one thousand hits a day, nearing a third of a million annually. Third Way is one part of the media matrix offered by MennoMedia and its book imprint, Herald Press, based in Harrisonburg.

Six sponsors, Mennonite Mission Network, Everence, Abundance Canada, Mennonite Health Services, Conrad Grebel University, and Goodville Mutual currently help sponsor the all-free website, which was founded in 1998 to help dispel myths about Mennonites and to convey solid information. While a fluffier FAQ titled “What’s the difference between Mennonites and Amish?” gets the most clicks (146,000 this past year), the second most accessed section, “Key Teachings of Jesus,” is a meatier section that totaled 65,000 clicks this year.

The inquirers offer windows into the questions—and misconceptions—people still have about Mennonites. Here, in two lists, discover what people in the general public wonder about regarding Mennonites. (You might consider holding a small group or church school class discussion around these lists.)

Top 10 Quirky Queries at Third Way

  1. MENNONITE MOABITES? Were [Mennonites] from the Moabites in the Bible?
  2. BEARDS, MODESTY, AND COVERINGS. What is the view on beards for men? Modest dresses for women? Headcoverings?
  3. BUY A BONNET? Can you tell me where we might purchase a traditional Old Order River Brethren bonnet? So far we’ve seen several pictures but nowhere to obtain one. It would be a good and modest bonnet for a woman attending prayer services.
  4. MENNO VEGETABLES IN PERTH? Do you grow vegetables and sell to the public? Are you located in Perth, Australia ? Thank you for getting back to me.
  5. BC? Which year [was] Jesus Christ born?
  6. SEPARATE WOMEN AND MEN? Why do the women sit separate from the men at church services? I asked a young Mennonite roofer this question and he wasn’t sure why but sort of knew the answer. I’m curious as to why?
  7. INQUIRING NURSES WANT TO KNOW. I’m doing some research on the Mennonite culture for nursing school. What are your verbal and non-verbal communication patterns? Any slang/dialect? How do you view personal space (how close when talking to someone)? If you were in the hospital, would there be anything that you would want the nurse to do/not do?
  8. BLACK AND WHITE. I am an African American male who is married to a white woman. Do the Mennonites accept this marriage?
  9. INFANT BAPTISM? Why do some people baptize infants?
  10. WANTS TO FARM. I’m interested in becoming a part of a Mennonite community, in an agricultural community somewhere in the U.S.

Top 10 Probes Worth Pondering

  1. GOSSIP CAUSING LOSS OF FAITH. I am not Mennonite but my boyfriend is. I understand views on divorce in the Bible. . . . I just have one issue. I have been talked bad about, against and to my face. I have been through a lot in my life and faced a lot of demons. But none worse than my boyfriend’s parents. I am pained to say this but due to the way one Mennonite family talks, it’s forced an opinion on me and is causing me to lose faith.
  2. KINSHIP WITH AMISH IN ADELAID. I have been brought up as a Christian and I find what the Amish believe, from what I can see, is a lot closer to what I believe then what a lot of other Christians believe. Is there a church or discussion group or someone in my area that I would be able to discuss or have meetings or get together for some drinks of some sort every so often? I am from the southern suburbs of Adelaid, South Australia [Numerous inquiries this year about Anabaptists in Australia have been referred to Mark and Mary Hurst, workers Down Under.]
  3. DESPERATELY HOMELESS. I am a homeless woman, 41 years old. I am in desperate need of help. I have nowhere to live and I am having a very hard time finding work in the Leola, Ephrata, Pa., area. I clean houses and repair anything that needs fixing, refinish and build wood furniture and install wood and tile flooring. But I am having trouble and do not even have the money to eat anymore. I try so hard to be a good person and because of that people take advantage of me. I cannot live on the streets anymore and I have no family to help and I am feeling hopeless. [She was given a local help number to call.]
  4. THE BIBLE A JOKE? The Bible still has no credibility to me just because of how stupid the verses are. I couldn’t even name all the dumb things that are listed there that don’t make any sense and are just so laughable. It’s a joke that this is what people live by and believe. “The Bible is holy and sacred and God’s word.” Please. I highly doubt that this is what God wanted people to live by. This sounds like a mockery of God.
  5. HOPE FOR ME? I was raised Catholic. Many many years later I was rebaptized as a born-again Christian. I have lost my faith. But sometimes I still believe. I want to believe in Jesus. I want to believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I want to believe that there is hope for me.
  6. IDENTITY QUESTIONS FOR MENNONITES. I am a student at Texas A&M University. What do you consider your identity to be as a Mennonite? What aspect of your identity do you want to be remembered by? What do you believe others in different cultures view your identity as?
  7. JUDEO-CHRISTIAN? Does the Mennonite church consider the United States a Judeo-Christian nation?
  8. MENNONITES AND JEWS. Two of my very dear friends are Mennonites. They shared with me that they are taught to love and help one another, especially the Jews. Could you provide more information regarding the Mennonite/Jewish relationship?
  9. WANT TO BE SAVED. I am looking to get saved. I was reading about the Mennonite church. I tried to find a church near Augusta, Georgia, but had no luck. Is there a Mennonite church in Augusta?
  10. ANGRY JESUS? I have heard Mennonites refer to Jesus as the Prince of Peace. According to scripture, did Jesus ever display signs of anger or violence?

MennoMedia Staff 

Photo Caption: Angela and Erwin Rempel volunteer on the annual Everence Day of Generosity for MennoMedia, and year round answering questions at Third Way website.

For more information on this news release:

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

For a book with 50 common questions asked over the years, see Ask Third Way Café 50 Common and Quirky Questions About Mennonites by Jodi Nisly Hertzler.

Ask Third Way Cafe