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

Worship and Song Committee begins selection process

Worship and Song Committee met in Elkhart, Indiana in early February. Two previous directors of hymnal projects are seated in center front, Mary Oyer and Rebecca Slough.

News Release: February 9, 2017

Worship and Song Committee begins selection process

Subcommittees tasked with evaluating and tagging hymnal content

ELKHART, INDIANA— Practically speaking, how does a group of 13 people review thousands of pieces of music and worship resources in the next three years? This was the focus of conversation February 2–5, 2017, when the 13-member Mennonite Worship and Song Committee met in Elkhart, Indiana, at the offices of Mennonite Church USA.

To accomplish the giant task before them, the committee has divided into subcommittees organized into two tiers: content and delivery; and contemporary and intercultural worship. The subcommittees began evaluating and tagging content that fits the vision of the project.

“This meeting helped address questions about where we see the collection moving,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director and general editor. “A clear structure helps us choose the content for this new hymnal.”

The committee includes Kauffman and Karen Gonzol, editorial assistant, as staff, plus 12 volunteers: Adam Tice, text editor; Benjamin Bergey, music editor; Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor. The remainder of the committee includes Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Paul Dueck, Mike Erb, Katie Graber, Emily Grimes, Tom Harder, SaeJin Lee, Anneli Loepp Thiessen, and Cynthia Neufeld Smith.

“This is a highly committed group of volunteers,” said Amy Gingerich, editorial director at MennoMedia who serves ex-officio on the committee. “The subcommittees really jelled around their shared purpose.”

Bradley Kauffman, project director, flanked by Rebecca Slough, left and Mary Oyer, right, key personnel for 1992 and 1969 hymnal collections, respectively.

Meeting highlights were an afternoon tea with Rebecca Slough and Mary Oyer, key figures in previous collections, including Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992) and Mennonite Hymnal (1969), and a session with David Eicher, who served as general editor for Presbyterian Publishing on its recent hymnal, Glory to God (2013). The group has plans to engage other leaders who have shaped Mennonite hymnody in future meetings.

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is working toward a 2020 release of a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in cooperation with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. To submit content for consideration, visit http://mennoniteworshipandsongcollection.org/.

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

 

 

 

Follow Jesus by embracing upside-down values

News Release
February 3, 2017

Follow Jesus by embracing upside-down values
Six-part series explores living out a countercultural faith          

HARRISONBURG, Va.—It is easy for Christians to lose touch with God in the routine of everyday life. Herald Press has created Upside-Down Living, a six-part Bible study series that engages participants with questions about how to live out one’s Christian faith in ways that seem upside down in today’s culture. All are to be released in the first half of 2017.

The first two texts, each with six sessions, will be released February 7: Sabbath, by Anita Amstutz, discusses different perspectives on Sabbath and the benefits of practicing it in our fast-paced lives. Technology, by Becca J. R. Lachman, explores how to use technology responsibly in today’s changing world.

The next two studies in the series will be published April 4. Money uses biblical Jubilee economic practices to look at how we can use our money to further God’s kingdom. Identity and Aging explores how to age well and faithfully between different stages of life, as well as the changes in identity that accompany them. These studies are written by Leonard M. Dow and Eleanor Snyder, respectively.

The final two studies in the series will come out June 6: Violence discusses how to be peacekeepers in a violent world and is written by J. Fred Kauffman. Sharing Faith Stories, by April Yamasaki, helps readers learn how to use their own stories to share their faith.

Intended for small group Bible studies or adult Sunday school classes—and especially for busy Christians who may not feel they have time to study for a lesson—the series strives to explore modern, relevant themes with whomever shows up on a given Sunday.

According to Mary Ann Weber, managing editor of Upside-Down Living, a goal of the series was to “create practical studies that will challenge and inspire people to live their faith on a daily basis.” Topics were selected because “they are matters people regularly face,” said Weber. “We hope that by addressing them, people will be compelled to dig into Scripture to see how it connects with our lives today.”

The chapters are short and include visuals and easy-to-understand language. Each session uses Scripture references to address a specific theme within the topic of the study and discusses its connection to current life using anecdotes, analogies, and discussion of today’s culture. The guides include a discussion questions that invite readers to discuss or journal about their thoughts and to apply the lesson to their own lives.

The books in the Upside-Down Living series are available from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894, the MennoMedia webstore at www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources.

MennoMedia Intern Luisa Miller
High resolution photo available

For sample copies or questions:
Contact LeAnn Hamby
Marketing Manager
Herald Press
(540) 908-3941 LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.