The Mennonite Schools Council (MSC) of Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) has released a new prekindergarten through 12th grade Bible curriculum entitled Encounter: An Anabaptist Faith Formation Curriculum. It is available for purchase through Amazon.
“The Encounter curriculum invites students to find themselves in the story of scripture and follow Jesus,” says Elaine Moyer, senior director at MEA and co-chair of the Encounter Steering Committee. “It’s about ongoing ways of encountering God in Scripture through an alternative approach to Christian education that is uniquely Anabaptist.”
Encounter seeks to emphasize holistic faith formation and create opportunities for students to encounter God, each other and creation. Using a narrative, biblical approach, Encounter highlights stories of God at work through people and emphasizes how the biblical story often comes through those at the margins of society. The curriculum encourages students to respond with wonder and questions in the early years, experiential learning in the middle years and a study of world religion and its role in society during the high school years.
It also includes Circle of Grace, a Christian curriculum for teaching students appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries.
“I am excited to see a curriculum that helps educators journey with children into the Bible and the work of Jesus, placing teachers as guides in the faith formation process,” says Lindsay Carson, principal and teacher at Lancaster Mennonite School in Pennsylvania. “As teachers, this curriculum helps us to value students as fellow children of God who encounter the Spirit in meaningful ways.”
A faculty of 15 writers from across MSC schools created the curriculum that they describe as “rooted in the Anabaptist/Christian stream of theology while also being warmly ecumenical.” A Steering Committee guided the process, co-chaired by Moyer and J. Richard Thomas. The curriculum was piloted and revised during the 2016-2017 school year.
“The curriculum is built around best practices in pedagogy with students owning their learning, wondering about God’s love and strategizing how to apply that to their lives as we live in community with others,” says Sharon Fransen, assistant superintendent at Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
“Students have the chance to share their own stories with each other and learn to see God at work in their own lives,” says Todd Bowman, middle school Bible teacher at Lancaster Mennonite School. “Mapping out the denominational family tree, for instance, evokes a wonderful and surprising amount of curiosity and joy in students as they share about their own church experiences and learn about others.”
Encounter is also a great resource for churches, says Moyer. Lessons throughout the curriculum include a reminder for teachers that Encounter “is a living curriculum where the goal isn’t that our students memorize a story, but that they see God’s purpose and respond to it.”
An Encounter sampler that includes one lesson from each grade is available on the MEA website. The curriculum can be purchased in full or by individual grades through Amazon.
Encounter Steering Committee members:
- J. Richard Thomas (co-chair)
- Elaine Moyer (co-chair)
- Jake Becker, The City School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Dawn Graber, Sarasota (Florida) Christian School
- Sharon Fransen, Dock Mennonite Academy, Lansdale, Pennsylvania
- Phyllis Nofziger, Hinkletown (Pennsylvania) Mennonite School
- Ann Schultz, consultant, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ontario
- Maria Archer
- Todd Bowman
- Lindsay Carson
- Jenn Esbenshade
- Adam Friesen Miller
- Rudy Graber
- Janice Greenleaf
- Martha Hernandez
- Jaime Keller
- Cindy Kern
- Kirby King
- Joyce Peachey Lind
- Lynette Mast
- Alma Ovalle
- Dean Sauder
- Melinda Stevens
- Josh Weaver
- Sheri Wenger