MB churches using new children’s curriculum

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Shine popular with congregations supporting peace theology

MennoMedia news story with files from Connie Faber

Mennonite Brethren congregations are among North American churches that are using Shine: Living in God’s Light, a new children’s curriculum that emphasizes Anabaptist theology.

Kindred Productions, the publishing company serving U.S. and Canadian Mennonite Brethren, is a cooperative partner in the project while Brethren Press and MennoMedia, the publishing houses of the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, developed the curriculum.  

Shine is a good choice for MB churches who wish to incorporate our Anabaptist peace theology into their Sunday school curriculum,” says Elenore Doerksen, Kindred Productions manager.  “Shine seeks to engage children thoughtfully through reflection and wondering questions, spiritual formation and teaching the stories of the Bible, while emphasizing peacemaking as one of its core values.”

The emphasis on peace is attracting congregations outside the Anabaptist tradition that value thoughtful theology and the transforming power of God’s love, says Rose Stutzman, Shine project director.

 “I am amazed at the interest Shine has generated in people of many denominations who are hungry for the gospel of peace,” says Stutzman, listing Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist congregations among those who are seeking out Shine. “When we first saw this interest in the Gather ’Round years we quit using insider language and examples. Everyone should feel welcome….”

Stutzman continues, “In the Shine curriculum we believe that God’s mission is peace and reconciliation through the person of Jesus Christ. The life that Jesus showed us, the love Jesus demonstrated, is a love that actively seeks justice, mercy, humility and peace in the midst of community. Because of Jesus, we are called to live in this way too. Shine is for any congregation who affirms the same.”

Brethren Press and MennoMedia, long-time collaborators, began almost three years ago to prepare a successor to their previous Sunday school curriculum, Gather ’Round.

Designed for children ages 3 through grade 8, Shine incorporates the latest understandings of the ways children learn. Shine covers much of the Bible in a three-year outline. The Bible stories move from Genesis to Revelation with a strong overview of the Old Testament and a heavy emphasis on the Gospels. The material is Bible story-based and incorporates open-ended, reflective questions designed to help children enter into the story with their hearts, not just their minds.

“We are pleased to offer our congregations a user-friendly, enriching curriculum that grows out of our distinct beliefs as Brethren and Mennonites,” says Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press.

Shine invites children to follow Jesus and to share their faith with others, say the publishers. 

“We dream of raising a generation of children who are inspired to shine God’s light in the world around them,” says Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia.

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