Learning How to Rock with Black Mennonite Women

We—Shine Project Director Rose Stutzman, Shine Curriculum Editor Chrissie Walls, and Shine Managing Editor Rachel Nussbaum Eby—had the privilege of attending Central District Conference’s annual women’s conference entitled “Black Mennonite Women Rock!” Women across Mennonite Church USA were invited to come to Camp Friedenswald, September 12–14.

RetreatImage We wanted to go because it was an opportunity to learn from black women and celebrate our common humanity. The gift of this particular retreat was that it was planned and led by black women.

We danced together Friday evening.

Dancing(Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page. Chrissie is second from the left.)

Dancing2 (Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page. Rose is third from the left.)

We worked on a block for the identity quilt.

QuiltBlocks

(Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page.)

Worship

We worshiped together, with singing led by Dr. Crystal Y. Sellers Battle, assistant professor of music at Bluffton (Ohio) University. (Photo by Rachel Nussbaum Eby.)

We listened to some incredible speakers:

HyacinthStevens

Hyacinth Stevens, keynote speaker and co-pastor of King of Glory Tabernacle in the Bronx, New York (Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page.)

NekeishaAlexis-Baker

Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, graphic designer and website specialist at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page.)

SarahThompson

Sarah Thompson, executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page.)

CyneathaMillsapsCyneatha Millsaps, pastor at Community Mennonite Church in Markham, Illinois (Photo from Camp Friedenswald Facebook page.)

We came to find out what we weren’t aware of before.

Someone asked me (Rose) “Did you hear anything new? Learn anything new?” My answer was that knowing something on an intellectual level is very different from letting the stories and experiences of black women wash over you.  I have been committed to anti-racism, but this weekend—filled with fun, worship, and stories—took that intellectual assent to a new level. The stories, voices, and gifts of these particular, beautiful women will stay in my heart.

ThemeQuiltQuilt made by Hively Avenue Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana, and Community Mennonite Church in Markham, Illinois, showing the history of African-Americans in the U.S. (Photo by Chrissie Walls.)

This retreat will impact our work as a Shine curriculum team. It deepened our commitment to sensitivity across color lines. When we write, we want to do so with care and humility knowing that each person’s life and story is a sacred trust. When we choose art and photos, we will be even more diligent in making a curriculum where all children can see themselves.

Images and language form children at a very young age. In Dark Girls, the documentary we watched during the retreat, we noticed just how early this can happen and were impressed with the importance of careful communication. We hope that Shine can be sensitive to the nuances of images and language. We want children of the next generation to know that all people are beloved children of God.

I (Rachel) knew that the color black often has negative connotations. The weekend made me even more aware of the pervasiveness of this idea, and together, Shine staff discussed ways to be more aware. We will handle the metaphor of light and darkness with even greater care. Dusk and evening can be a cool and comforting time. And darkness can be like a blanket, covering us and giving us rest.

I (Chrissie) witnessed openness to the movement of the Spirit. Women who came prepared to lead songs and share a particular message were able to remain open to God’s spirit moving in that particular time and situation. In curriculum we write a plan for Sunday school. We ask for God’s guidance when doing that. But we want people using the curriculum to be open to the Spirit as they use the curriculum in a particular time and space.

How have you been open to the Spirit when teaching Sunday school?

Rose, Rachel, and Chrissie
Shine curriculum staff

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How Will Your Church Launch Shine Children’s Curriculum?

A complete worship service/celebration planning guide; blog post by Rose Stutzman

ShineLogoAt the Shine office we are hearing from churches who are planning their introduction to Shine. First use will be August 31 but some congregations are waiting to begin until everyone is back from Labor Day weekend.

A church in Ottawa, Ontario is planning to tie in Shine spiritual practices and Shine key Bible passages into their worship service on the first Sunday of using Shine. Here is a link to a PowerPoint of the verses if you care to do the same. Shine key scriptures

A church in Goshen, Indiana is doing a series on faith formation of children, youth, and adults this fall (inspired by, among other things, Shine Together). On September 7 every family with children under the age of 12 will receive Shine On: A Story Bible. (Imagine a stack of 45 story Bibles waiting to spring into use!)

IMG_9929Households with no young children will receive Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book. A basket on the table will allow households to contribute toward the cost of the books if they are able.

Other possibilities include:

  • Playing songs from the Shine Early Childhood CD during children’s time. Three MP3s are available at https://shinecurriculum.com/music/.
  • Choosing a song from the Year 1 Shine songbook and CD as a fall theme song so that the congregation is singing along with its children.
  • Doing a series of sermons on the biblical theme of light.
  • Blessing teachers and children with these words as they leave for Sunday school” “May the light of God’s presence guide you as you hear God’s story together.”

Some folks in Kansas planned a whole worship service, which follows below. This is also available at https://shinecurriculum.com/extras/ Click on Shine worship resources in the grid of Shine general resources.

Oct2013Various 040Shine Sunday Order of Worship

Bulletin Cover – see Shine graphics / logos available here.

Songs – refer to Year One Shine Songbook and CD. Some of these songs may also be available in other church hymnals you use.

Welcome!

Opening Prayer

Gathering Songs:“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (p. 8, track 5); “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (p. 7, track 10); “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!” (p. 11, track 21);

Hold up the Shine songbook and explain that each Christian education room will have a copy of this songbook and CD which will be used throughout the year.

Shining Christ’s Light Together

Scripture: Matthew 5:14–16

Worship Leader: You are the light of the world. A city built upon a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Congregation Response: We are a reflection of God’s light; called to shine that light at home and beyond.

Scripture Reflection/Meditation – Pastor (four minutes)

Song: “Let Your Light Shine” (p. 27, track 1)

Known and Loved by God

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2

Worship Leader: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in the land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.

Congregation Response: God’s light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.

Scripture Reflection/Meditation – Pastor (four minutes)

Song: “You Gave Us Hope” (p. 13, track 2)

What is congregational faith formation? (three minutes)

A Christian educator / parent or pastor can offer some thoughts here about how we are formed in our faith from cradle to grave; that Sunday School is just one way of many that we are able to pass on our faith; that everything we do as adults is modeling faith for children and youth. Look in Shine Together: The Essential Guide for Leaders and Teachers for more statements on faith formation that you could adapt for this time of informal input).

Presentation of Shine On: A Story Bible to all households that have children

Explain that Shine On will be used each week for grades K–5 and that each story includes some ideas for further conversation at home. Tell them to read the same story together as a family.

Presentation of Shine songbook and CD to all households that have children ages 5–12

—Hold up an Early Childhood Music CD and explain that parents will be getting directions for downloading free songs for the quarter on the leaflets children will bring home.

—Say that the Shine songbook and CD will be used for all year during the Christian nurture hour. One way for families to do simple faith formation at home is to play the CD in their car to and from church each week or play the downloads for younger children at bedtime!

Presentation of something to all adult households

This is to emphasize that faith formation is for everyone. Ideas could be: a yellow votive / tea light candle, a prayer book, a yellow flower bulb, a bookmark with the colorful Shine logo and a list of the scriptures that Shine will cover during the fall quarter.

Sharing Christ’s Light – God’s Shalom

Scripture: Romans 12:2

Worship leader: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Congregation response: The light of Christ transforms us and gives us wisdom to do God’s will. We cooperate with God to bring healing and hope to our world.

Scripture Reflection/Meditation – Pastor (four minutes)

Song: “Prayer of Peace” (p. 19, track 4)

Offering: “Jesus, You Fill Our Hearts with Your Love” (p. 16, track 18)

Sharing

Individual sharing could be framed or preceded by these phrases . . . I am seeking God’s light or I am thankful for the way God’s light has shined on . . . or I pray that the light of Christ will transform . . .

Litany of Commitment (from Matthew 5:14–16; Romans 12:2)

Leader: Today we celebrate the greatness of our God—the one who created us with minds to learn, and who opens our hearts to understand.

People: We are a reflection of God’s light, wanting children to experience the transforming power of God’s love and to shine God’s light in the world. Arise; let your light shine.

Leader: We are thankful for teachers who share God’s story. We are thankful for children and youth who see the light of God’s message unfold. We are thankful for a congregation who encourages and supports these efforts.

People: Let us look to God and be radiant. Let us reflect the brightness, as nothing can hide God’s glorious light. Arise; let your light shine.

Leader: Together, we promise to experience God’s story and respond, as we serve you faithfully. We give you all the praise, honor, and glory.

All: We believe that expressing our faith through lives of compassionate peacemaking and service to others shows that the light is stronger than darkness.

Sending/Blessing: “Sending Song” (p. 31, track 22)

Additional options:

  • Have an older child read a story from the Shine On: A Story Bible to the younger children for a children’s time.
  • Show the introductory video about Shine found here.
  • Ask parents, teachers, and pastors to mark their favorite Bible story in the Shine On: A Story Bible before you hand them out to families.
  • Ask children or youth to write the Welcome and Opening Prayer.
  • Ask a child or youth to be the worship leader, along with an adult, if preferred.
  • Invite children to play some of the songs from the Shine songbook as a prelude on piano or other instrument. Invite children or youth to accompany the congregational singing.
  • Use one of the scriptures as a call to worship, rather than as a whole focus for one of the sections.
  • Provide paper, crayons, or markers in “Shine” colors for doodling during the service. Or use shape-prompts on the page like part of a sun, part of a candle, etc., and have doodlers complete the object and add to it. Display creations in hallway or sanctuary wall.
  • Have rhythm instruments available for folks to grab as they enter the service. If adults are too cautious, make sure the children get them. Be sure to invite them to use them during the singing.
  • Visuals – Use the Shine colors! Yellow, Royal Blue, Green, Orange.

o  Bright-colored fabric draped on a table or podium, with large pillar candle to be lit when first scripture is read.

o   Different kinds of lamps or different heights of candles representing different kinds of light can be grouped on the communion table.

o   Large mirrors can be placed behind lit candles to reflect light back into congregation. They might even see themselves in the reflection.

Credits:

  • Worship outline developed by Vicki Hinz-Ensz, Shine trainer from First Mennonite, Beatrice, Nebraska, and adapted by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation, Western District Conference, Mennonite Church USA.
  • Litany of Commitment by Pat Denno, First Mennonite, Newton, Kansas

***

Do you have other creative or useful ideas for launching the new curriculum?

Please do let us know what you do; comment here or send an email to roses@mennomedia.og. We would love to hear from you!

Rose Stutzman
Shine Project Director

Chocolate éclairs and new curriculum

Guest post from Rose Stutzman, Shine Project Director.

When my older children were in high school, they loved to bake. When someone mentioned chocolate éclairs, I warned them that it would be too hard to do. The next evening my son Dan was in charge of supper. At the end of the meal he said he’d bring in the dessert. His siblings looked like they’d been up to something. They had made chocolate éclairs. It had taken all of them working together and they got rave reviews from their surprised parents.

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I hope you have had many similar experiences of teamwork and having something turn out so well that others notice and enjoy it. For me, that would be Shine On: A Story Bible and its Spanish counterpart Resplandece: Historias de la biblia para niños. I’m pleased to have been a part of the team from MennoMedia and Brethren Press that made these amazing Bible storybooks available to children.

ResplandeceFrom the start we on the Shine curriculum team wondered if it would be possible. How were we going to create a Bible storybook and have the first quarter of the new Shine Sunday school curriculum out on time? It was a huge task to write and gather Bible stories for all three years of a children’s curriculum and have it ready with the first quarter of curriculum. This project involved editors, consultants, designers, artists, copyeditors, proofreaders, translators, and people to attend to details like printing specifications and the library of congress numbers. Like the chocolate éclairs it took teamwork.

It has been like the éclairs in another way. The “rave reviews” are coming in. One Mennonite pastor said, “We’ll be buying each child in the congregation a copy. I can imagine that when the children grow up to be camp counselors they will read the stories to younger kids.”

One woman shared Shine On with a friend in Fort Bragg. The friend wrote back,

Oh, how much I love the “Shine Bible”—such a great resource and just so “right on” for kids.  Don’t you wish they could have explained some of the Bible (like they did) when we were young?  They relate everything to the child’s own experiences.

Shine On remains authentic to the text and includes a broad range of Bible texts. It seems to cross denominational  boundaries. A bishop in the Amish church asked me how Shine On was different than other story Bibles. I explained our peacemaking emphasis and told him that it included the story of Amos and the Prayer of Agur. He took a look and bought a copy. His daughter, who teaches at an Amish school, bought one too. In a quite different denominational setting, Shine On was recommended by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary. You can read the full review here.

The best stories come from the children who are already encountering Shine On. Isabela discovered Resplandece at her Spanish-speaking grandpa’s house. She was delighted, “My other grandpa has it too, but in English.” Now Isabela can enjoy the story Bible with both sets of grandparents and in both of her languages.

Sophia discovered Shine On when she came for vacation at her “adoptive” grandmother’s house. Sophia wrote to us.

I like the book because it has the “Connect” sections and the “Explore” sections ,which ask you questions and get you thinking. I also like that there are so many different authors and illustrations. I like the pictures. I like that every story is only one page long. The authors do a good job of making the stories easy for kids to understand.

 

Sophia Shine Bible

Sophia reading Shine On. Photo by Marty Lehman.

Here are a few other endorsements that we have received:

I really like the children’s Bible. Now more than ever the need to educate parents and get them talking about faith with their children is crucial. Shine On: A Story Bible is one of the best and most accessible ways to get parents doing this. I’m recommending it to churches even if they don’t get the curriculum. —Amy Cook, Missioner for Education, Formation & Discipleship, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

 

These illustrations (drawn by a rich variety of artists) are already replacing those I remember from childhood. Even Leviticus (pages 56–57) comes alive! This is what the Bible looks like. This is what God’s Word looks like. It will unlock these stories for children and adults. These are the illustrations and stories that I would love for children and parents to share for life. —Frank Ramirez, Pastor at Union Center Church of the Brethren

 

Shine On has even gotten to children in Nigeria via Church of the Brethren staff visiting there. I love imagining the hope that these Bible stories might bring in Nigeria and many other parts of the world.

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Daughters of a leader in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) hold their copy of Shine On. Photo by Markus Gamache.

Primary, Middler, and Multiage Bible stories come from Shine On each week for all three years of the Shine curriculum. Shine On is also a wonderful Bible storybook for churches, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to gift to children. We hope that every child will have a Shine On Bible at home.

To order Shine On, visit www.ShineCurriculum.com or call MennoMedia at 1-800-245-7895. In Canada call 1-800-631-6535.

Rose Stutzman, Shine Project Director

P.S. Make sure to check out the new Shine curriculum training videos on our YouTube channel!