Claiming a Faith of Our Own

Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. Youth curriculum. How do the two fit together? And should they?

Here at MennoMedia we are in the midst of taking the articles from the church’s confession of faith and using them as the basis for a new youth curriculum.

This new curriculum is about uncovering, discovering, and claiming the beliefs and practices that Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada hold as truths.

Shared experience today in North America is being reduced. As a result, we don’t have as much shared religious culture either. Just ask a congregation which people can sing all the verses of “Amazing Grace” or recite Psalm 23 and you’ll see what I mean.

In addition, youth and young adults are comfortable with competing schools of thought. Those under 29 are able to look at choices and see both/and rather than either/or. As a result, previous divisions are becoming less relevant.

But youth and young adults today do want to gather information, to find out what people believe and why—and to make educated choices for themselves. They want to claim faith, and are also always in the process of claiming it.

Our new curriculum, called Claim(ing) Faith, takes the 24 articles in Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective and translates them into a 10-session curriculum that involves both print and video.

Last Friday I had the privilege of working with MennoMedia Videographer Wayne Gehman on two of the ten videos.

We started the morning in Dover, Ohio, with Chet Miller-Eshleman at LifeBridge Community Church. Chet shared some amazing stories about God working in his life. Chet’s interview will be part of the session on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Wayne Gehman and Chet Miller Eshleman look for pictures of congregational activity at LifeBridge Community Church.
Wayne Gehman and Chet Miller Eshleman look for pictures of congregational activity at LifeBridge Community Church.

He told a story about dropping out of college disenfranchised as a young adult and becoming homeless; he told a story about hearing God’s voice telling him to plant a church in Ohio—while he was serving in Colombia with Mennonite Central Committee. Truly amazing stories about the power of God.

Chet photo
Chet Miller Eshleman changes the sign at LifeBridge Community Church.

Wayne and I then spent the evening at Lee Heights Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio. There we interviewed four people about the church and the church in mission. The Lee Heights congregation is actively involved in its neighborhood, and we heard great stories about what brought these people or their families to the church—and more importantly what keeps them there.

A common thread in all four interviews at Lee Heights was service. Service within the church and service to the larger community keep all four individuals connected and committed to Lee Heights.

Tenesha, age 17, shared about her involvement in the church’s community garden, praise dance team, and gospel choir. How does a 17-year-old find time to do all these things in the midst of schoolwork? It’s part of who I am, she shared, and we heard that echoing again and again throughout the interviews at Lee Heights.

Tenesha shares stories about her involvement at Lee Heights Community Church.

I’m deeply grateful for the stories I heard on Friday. They connected with my own journey and I look forward to sharing these interviews with youth through Claim(ing) Faith (available June 2013).

Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich