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.

3D-BookCovers_ShineOn_lowRGB (2)

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.

13-ShineNigeria2014-NigerianChildrenwithShineOnBible-byMarkusGamache

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!

The Countdown is Nearing: Time to Shine!

By Mary Ann Weber

What comes next in this sequence? Foundation Series, Jubilee, Gather ’Round, _____?

Some of you recognize these as titles of previous children’s Sunday school curriculum published by MennoMedia and Brethren Press. They have all served the church well by providing solid, Bible story-based materials in an Anabaptist perspective to guide our children in forming faith. Following in this rich tradition, a new children’s Sunday school curriculum begins this September, 2014. The answer to the sequence is the name of the new curriculum—Shine: Living in God’s Light.

IMG_3890

My own adventures with Sunday school began when I was both a student and a teacher with the long-running Foundation Series. Every now and then at my office I run across old dusty copies of a Foundation Series piece. It all looks familiar and I still remember some of the stories, even though it was used long ago!

Then Jubilee came along with its brightly colored wooden story figures essential to telling the Bible story. Children were captivated with them, and eager to retell the story so that they could use the story figures.

Gather ’Round built on the good faith traditions of the previous materials. The children I taught liked that the Sunday school time was also a worship experience. They watched reverently as I lit a candle to remind them of God’s presence, and sang along heartily along with the CD to praise God.

And now, very soon, Shine will begin. August 31, 2014 is the much anticipated day to start this new series and people are taking time to learn about it. Several trainings have been held to introduce and orient people to the new materials.

IMG_3891

Recent Shine training with Mary Ann Weber for Indiana Michigan Conference.

People are enthused about Shine On, the story Bible that accompanies the primary and middle classes. It contains all of the stories used in Shine throughout its three year cycle, and includes artwork from a variety of artists. In addition to using it for Sunday school, Shine On also makes a good church-home connection if one is purchased for each household. Families can read the story together, look at the illustrations, and talk about the exploring and connecting points found next to each story.

DocHdl2OnVERSA-PPM01tmpTargetPeople are also excited about the songbook and CD combination. While one of these is used in each primary, middler, and junior youth classroom, one pastor said that he would like children to have their own copies. This way they can follow along with the music as they sing, play the music themselves, and have their very own CD to play even when they are not in Sunday school.

y1Shine_SongbookAndCD_HR

You can learn more at the Shine website, www.ShineCurriculum.com. If you have not attended a training, videos will soon be posted at the website that will orient new users to the material.

It’s time to Shine!

***

What do you remember from your Sunday school days? What stories, songs or Bible verses have stuck with you?

***

Do you feel it is important for your children, grandchildren, or church families to grow up with an Anabaptist children’s curriculum? Why or why not?

***

The Shine On Bible is available here.

120127_3988

Mary Ann Weber
Managing Editor for Curriculum