Pop Christian and secular cultures distract from who God has called us to be

April 3, 2018

Pop Christian and secular cultures distract from who God has called us to be, says author of new book, Worthy

HARRISONBURG, Va.— Growing up as a preacher’s kid, Melanie Springer Mock often felt the strain of expectations to be perfect. Even though her mother told her that she needed to grow into her own person, Mock says, “For much of my life, I never truly believed my mom.”

Now a professor, author, and book reviewer, Mock takes on the cultural and religious messages that have formed her and many others in book just released from Herald Press, Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else.

 By plumbing Scripture and critiquing the ten-billion-dollar-a-year self-improvement industry, Mock offers life-giving reminders that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Set free from the anxiety to conform to others’ expectations, we are liberated to become who we are, created in God’s image. Accepting ourselves means “swimming against expectations that would tell us to be something, or someone, else,” Mock writes. “It’s about recognizing that embracing our inherent worthiness is much more than a self-help enterprise; instead, it is part of a justice movement that recognizes every person as an image-bearer of God, already, just as they are.”

Through lively and often humorous prose, the author challenges messages both from popular culture and the Christian marketplace, which Mock says “is flooded with self-improvement products that have a Jesus-flavored vibe.” She debunks ideals of Christian womanhood, dramatic conversion narratives, and what it means to be “blessed.” Worthy helps readers embrace their own unique, God-created selves rather than trying to live up to standards or molds set out by the world, Christian culture, or peer groups.

Shirley Showalter, author of Blush, calls Worthy a “beautiful, vulnerable book,” and writer Elrena Evans calls it a “must-read for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.” Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church and Malestrom, writes the foreword, and the book is accompanied by free downloadable reflection and discussion questions.

Mock’s work has appeared in Christianity Today Women, The Nation, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Christian Feminism Today, and she is the author or editor of five other books. Mock is a professor of English at George Fox University, and she and her husband and sons live in Dundee, Oregon. She also is a frequent book reviewer in Mennonite World Review.

Worthy is available from Herald Press for $16.99 (paperback) via 800‑245‑7894 and $13.99 (ebook) at the Herald Press webstore, www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule an interview with Melanie Springer Mock, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

Music selection for new hymnal shaped by new table of contents

March 1, 2018

Music selection for new hymnal shaped by new table of contents

UNION, Mich. — The work of the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is slow and joyful and involves a lot of singing.

Six members of the Resonate team sample past selections from Sing the Story as they choose songs for the new Mennonite collection to be published in 2020. The team met in February at Camp Friedenswald in Michigan. From left to right: Tom Harder, SaeJin Lee, Cynthia Neufeld Smith, Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Allan Rudy Froese, and project director Bradley Kauffman.

The 14-person committee, working as the “Resonate Team,” gathered at Camp Friedenswald in February to continue its work toward the 2020 release of a new hymnal for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

“We’re in an exciting season right now,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director. “In 2017, we received more than 2,100 submissions of new and original content ranging from visual art to written worship resources to songs and hymns. It’s energizing to work with that content.”

The committee sang and processed more than two hundred songs at its February gathering, a year after it started the selection process at another meeting. The group continues to discern what strikes a chord among committee members and what will resound with the larger church.

“We’ve been listening to Anabaptists across the United States and Canada to see what resonates with congregations in both countries,” Kauffman said.

At this recent meeting the committee affirmed a table of contents that has been underway for many months. The committee views the table of contents as a lens to evaluate both the canon of existing content and new submissions, and will use it to populate the sections of what will become the new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia.

Committee member Sarah Kathleen Johnson said the table of contents will help churches go one step deeper into the tradition of Hymnal: A Worship Book and how it shaped worship. “The table of contents of Hymnal: A Worship Book is quite unique in that it follows the flow of worship,” she said. “Thinking about that flow of worship helps shape decisions about what to include in the new book and how songs support the actions within worship.”

The committee has had holy moments as it’s gathered in a circle and sung and discussed music. The group is immensely grateful for the submissions and interest, as well as prayers. “As we carry out this work, we invite your prayers to accompany us as we select worship materials for MC Canada and MC USA,” Kauffman said.

Fundraising for the project continues, and MennoMedia hopes to raise another $200,000 to $300,000 this year. “As a small, nonprofit organization, we do not have the resources to create this massive project without the contributions of generous donors—individuals and congregations who are willing to be patrons and keep the final costs to congregations lower,” said Amy Gingerich, executive director and publisher for MennoMedia. “We continue to welcome donations for this project.”

“Resonate” has been a working name for the committee and its work, but an official name and logo for the suite of hymnal products will be announced soon, said Gingerich.

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

To keep up with the latest news from the Resonate Team follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ResonateMWSC/


Counselor Brenda Yoder helps parents prepare for when kids fly the coop in Fledge

February 22, 2018

Counselor Brenda Yoder helps parents prepare for when kids fly the coop in Fledge

HARRISONBURG, Va. —Preparing kids to leave home is a daunting task, and parents often feel unprepared for this stage of life. Counselor, educator, and mother Brenda L. Yoder helps Christian parents navigate this transition in Fledge: Launching Your Kids without Losing Your Mind (March 13, 2018, Herald Press).

With biblical wisdom and firsthand experience, Yoder has practical advice for parents with children preparing to spread their wings and leave home. Yoder answers questions like: How do you parent tweens at home and young adults away from home at the same time? What’s a good balance between boundaries and freedom? What do you do with all that mom grief?

“This book is not for empty nesters,” writes Yoder. “It’s for us: parents in the process of nudging our children out of our nest, one by one. We are so busy doing life we don’t think of all the changes happening until the tears, the ‘lasts,’ and the hormones take over, forcing us to embrace the fact that midlife and adult kids are upon us.” Fledge aims to help parents release children into the future that God has planned for them. “It’s a crazy, exhausting, and exhilarating time of life, and you may not feel equipped for it,” Yoder says.

Publishers Weekly writes, “Readers who are in the process of readying their children to launch into adulthood will find Yoder’s text to be a helpful companion.” Jim Daly of Focus on the Family says, “We often hear from families who are watching their kids graduate from high school and transition from childhood into the adult world. It can be a challenging time for moms in particular. In Fledge, Brenda L. Yoder provides sensitive, biblical wisdom for moms who want to help their kids launch well.”

Brenda L. Yoder is a licensed mental health counselor, speaker, Bible teacher, educator, and parent of teens and young adults. She has a master’s in clinical mental health counseling and a bachelor’s in education. Yoder’s work has been published in the Washington Post and Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Reboot Your Life, and she has been a columnist for Ten to Twenty Parenting and Whatever Girls. A former high school teacher and middle school counselor, Yoder and her husband have four children and live in northern Indiana. Connect with her at BrendaYoder.com.

Fledge is available from Herald Press for $15.99 (paperback) and $12.99 (ebook) at 800-245-7894 or at www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877-846-1593), Parasource (800-263-2664), and elsewhere. To schedule an interview with Brenda Yoder, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540-908-3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

Higher res photos available on request.