Polly and Andy, two more books in Ellie’s People series, released

September 3, 2015
News release

Herald Press republishes Polly and Andy stories for young readers
Books 5 and 6 of Mary Christner Borntrager’s Ellie’s People series to be released

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—Mary Christner Borntrager was cherished by her family for sitting down to tell stories or read to children and grandchildren. Late in her life, she turned that gift into a legacy of published books for her family and youthful readers of all ages.

Polly, about a family moving from their Amish community to Texas, and Andy, about an Amish boy who faces adolescent angst and teasing, are the newest novels in this series released by Herald Press in September and October.

The Ellie’s People series chronicles the family and friends of the protagonist of book 1, Ellie Maust, across several generations. While fictional, the series focuses on real issues young people face within the context of an Amish life. Borntrager grew up in an Old Order Amish home, and she based her stories on the people and places of her childhood. Books from the series have sold more than half a million copies.

PollyIn book 5, Polly Miller doesn’t want to move to Texas. No other Amish families live in Lone Prairie, and Polly loves her family and friends in Ohio. But her father’s mind is made up. As Polly settles into her new life, she gains a non-Amish friend, Rose Ann, who shares her dresses and makeup with Polly. She also earns the attention of a young hired hand named Tom, who takes her to a rodeo and tells her how pretty she is.

Andy Maust, the protagonist of book 6, likes to writeAndy.indd poems. He’s not good at running or wrestling or any of the other activities that Amish boys enjoy. The other boys tease him mercilessly, and then Andy’s dog disappears in a mysterious way. As “drifters” roam the country on trains looking for work and a hot meal, Andy begins to imagine running away from his troubles.

The books are written for readers 10 years and up. The language has been updated for today’s reader, and the books have new covers.

Borntrager’s novels have been praised for their accurate descriptions of Amish life. Borntrager’s daughter Kathryn Keim writes in an upcoming article for the popular AmishWisdom blog about her mother’s books, “Her goal was to give the world books that were true to life about people who are often misunderstood,” Keim writes. “I think she accomplished that.”

Polly and Andy are available for $9.99 USD/$­­­ 11.49 CAD each from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores.

MennoMedia staff

High resolution photo available upon request.
For more information
Melodie Davis
News manager

How did Christianity become so tame?

News release
August 26, 2015

How did Christianity become so tame?RewildingTheWay

Todd Wynward rewilds Christianity by investigating Scripture as inspiration for redemptive rebellion

HARRISONBURG, Va. and KITCHENER, Ontario—God’s dream for human society is far wilder than we can imagine, so when did we become addicted to the North American way of overconsumption, status-seeking, gadgetry, and fossil fuels, and how might we break free? Wilderness guide and author Todd Wynward addresses these questions in his latest book, Rewilding Faith: Breaking Free to Follow an Untamed God (Herald Press, September 1, 2015).

Wynward, who has spent more than one thousand nights outdoors, writes in the wilderness tradition of John the Baptist and Kurt Hahn (founder of Outward Bound) to discover meaning in self-denial and hope in uncolonized spaces. Wynward and his family have lived in a 30-foot yurt; they milk their own goats, collect rainwater, and use a composting toilet, yet as Wynward is clear to point out, they are still very much part of culture.

Todd photo (3)“If you’re daunted by our example, don’t be: we’re pretenders,” says Wynward. “Yes, we’ve cultivated a slightly parallel existence, but we’re still solidly embedded in consumer culture.” He points out that his family owns one laptop per person, too many cars, a cappuccino maker, and cell phones, and claims they have a voracious appetite for Netflix. “We daily take our son to soccer practice in a Prius and monthly drive a hundred miles to shop at the nearest Trader Joe’s.” He feels that even though they dabble with homesteading in the high desert, “we’re still entangled in empire, deeply part of the system.”

In other words, Wynward and his family are part of a group of Christians who live between worlds, striving to follow the Jesus Way while still being shackled to Caesar and enthralled by empire. But he says there is hope for these “half-disciples.”

“I pin my hopes on the fact that God is extravagant, mercy within mercy within mercy,” says Wynward. “God knows our hearts. He created us, inconsistent and imperfect, to be just as we are. God expects us to love our families and seek to walk the Way.”

Drawing from the work of writers like Bill McKibben and Joanna Macy and groups like New Monastic communities and nonviolent Anabaptists, Wynward offers concrete ideas—such as re-skilling, local food covenants, relational tithes, cohousing, transition towns, and watershed discipleship—for living faithfully in an era of climate change. If some of these words and concepts feel new, they are amply explained in the book.

How can we recover from our affluenza? How can we raise families and be radical disciples? How can we engage in society without being allegiant to it? Rewilding the Way shows how to break free from the empire of Christendom and “become the wild people God wants us to be” says Wynward.


Todd Wynward is fanatic about reframing public education and re-envisioning the North American way of life, starting with his own. He has been engaged in experiential education and social change movements for 20 years. He is the founder of a wilderness-based public charter school, leads backpacking and river trips for adult seekers, and is an animating force behind TiLT, an intentional cohousing community in Taos, New Mexico. Author Richard Rohr calls his novel, The Secrets of Leaven, “a spiritual roller coaster that skewers everything we think we know about organized religion, social change, and human potential.”

Rewilding the Way: Break Free to Follow an Untamed God is available in paperback for $15.99 USD from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores. To contact Wynward to schedule speaking events, wilderness treks, or weekend workshops, go to www.rewildingtheway.com, or the Facebook page for Rewilding the Way.

MennoMedia Staff

High resolution photos available.
for more information on press release:
Melodie Davis
News manager

An Alternative Presence at the Coast Guard Academy by Steve Carpenter

Before becoming Mennonite, I had a twenty year career in the Coast Guard, the fifth branch of the U.S.’s armed forces. I have not kept in touch with many of my former colleagues and rarely ventured back to my roots at the Coast Guard Academy (CGA) in New London, Connecticut, where I graduated as an Ensign in 1977.

But this year, on Nov. 16, I went back for a memorial service for Betsy Teuton, the wife of Hank, my best friend in college. She died after a two-year battle with ovarian cancer. Approximately 600 people gathered in the academy’s auditorium for a time of worship and reflection on her remarkable life and witness. Betsy radiated Christ’s love and extended hospitality to all, but especially to the cadets at the CGA where she and her husband served as the campus representatives of the Officer’s Christian Fellowship (OCF). OCF is similar to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship except they have chapters on military academies and bases rather than on college campuses.

Hank & Betsy Teuton

Hank & Betsy Teuton

Betsy’s memorial service began with the blowing of a shofar, reminiscent of ancient Israel’s call to worship. Music permeated the memorial with professional military band members and a praise band comprised of current and former cadets leading those gathered in worship. The Superintendent of the CGA, Rear-Admiral Sandra Stosz, gave testimony to Betsy’s influence on the cadets.

RADM Sandra L. Stosz, USCG

RADM Sandra L. Stosz, USCG

Later, during a reception in the auditorium’s ball room she honored Betsy with a posthumous “Commander’s Award” which she presented to Hank. It was a beautiful service marked by genuine love and regard for the deceased and infused with heartfelt worship. Betsy was a remarkable woman who was deeply loved and will be sorely missed.

Gerry Hale, Hank Teuton, Steve Carpenter, Randy Beardsworth, Wayne Buchanan

Gerry Hale, Hank Teuton, Steve Carpenter, Randy Beardsworth, & Wayne Buchanan. Photo by Frank Cole.

However, I no longer felt entirely at home in this setting. The memorial was characterized by military protocol, although not a stuffy formality. A retired CG Captain officiated over well-dressed participants, many of whom had short cropped haircuts and wore military uniforms. The evening was also infused with deference to rank. For example, I was repeatedly called “sir” despite being in civilian garb, and the places of honor were occupied by admirals and other senior military officers. A senior military chaplain offered his words of remembrance. There were video appearances by Vice-Admiral Lee, Commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, along with several foreign missionaries.

You can imagine, then, how surprised I was when I noticed a casually dressed young couple, with the gentleman sporting dreadlocks. They were quite noticeable. I inquired about who they were and, to my surprise, learned the young woman, Sarah, is the daughter of Bob Durfey, another of my best friends during college. He was the retired CG Captain who emceed the service.

I sidled up to this young couple during the reception and remarked, “You guys are a breath of fresh air in the midst of all of these starched shirts!” Sarah was present with her boyfriend Jared, whom she met in San Francisco. I told them they reminded me of Shane Claiborne and asked if they knew of him and The Simple Way community he leads in Philadelphia. As expected, they did know and admire Claiborne. However, I was flabbergasted to learn that earlier this fall they were in Harrisonburg, Virginia, now my hometown, to attend the wedding of some Mennonite friends at Early Church. They said they were impressed with the work Mennonite Pastor Ron Copeland is doing at Our Community Place.

Joe Durfey, Jack & Sarah Smith with baby Kate, Sarah Durfey, Gared Dunham, Steve Carpenter. Photo by Frank Cole

Joe Durfey, Jack & Sarah Smith with baby Kate, Sarah Durfey, Jared Dunham & Steve Carpenter. Photo by Frank Cole

Here, standing before me, was a young woman who had grown up in the same military circles in which I formerly moved. She too was discovering Mennonites, but unlike my experience, she discovered them through her involvement with the alternative Christian voice expressed in the New Monastic movement.

One of the reasons I enjoy working at MennoMedia is that we project an alternative Christian viewpoint, expressed in Anabaptist thought and practices, into the marketplace of ideas. Herald Press books are often one link in the road some follow as they discover a people dedicated to following the Prince of Peace. The theology, lifestyle, and thinking of Mennonites is often very different from that of military chaplains and senior officers.

I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Sarah if she knew Joanna Shenk, associate pastor of First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and the author of Widening the Circle, the story of alternative Christian communities in the Mennonite orbit.

There are two other recent Herald Press books that I would have liked to have given to some of my friends gathered at Betsy’s memorial service. These books could introduce this Coast Guard audience to an alternative expression of Christian faith that seeks to follow the Prince of Peace above country. They are:

For God and Country [in that order] by Logan Mehl-Laituri

and Reconcile: Conflict Transformation Ordinary Christians by John Paul Lederach.

Bill Hybels, co-founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, wrote a glowingly endorsement of Reconcile saying, “Lynne and I feel deeply called to the work of peacemaking these days. We know it is very near to the heart of the One we serve. No one’s writings have helped us more than John Paul Lederach’s.”

I was encouraged by Sarah’s experience with her Mennonite friends. I wish my military friends and classmates could also be exposed to Mennonites and their alternative expression of The Way. MennoMedia is an important link in this chain of influence, supporting relational witness with well-reasoned arguments and stories presented in print and other media forms.

Thank you for supporting MennoMedia’s work through your donations, and by buying, using, and sharing our materials.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve C 2012

Steve Carpenter MennoMedia’s Director of Development & Church Relations