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Other denominations recommending Gather ’Round to their churches

   
 


Greg and Pam Goering, of Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church near Inman, Kansas, are part of a class using Connect, the Gather ’Round Bible study guide written for parents, caregivers, and other interested adults. Connect includes 13 weekly sessions on the same Bible texts that children and youth are studying, as well as daily devotions on parenting themes, and ideas to help parents discuss faith issues with children and youth.

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Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Network joint release
March 5, 2007

Scottdale, Pa. and Waterloo, Ont. — The United Church of Christ (UCC) has signed an agreement to become a cooperative user of Gather 'Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News, the new Sunday school curriculum from Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network.

A positive response to Gather ’Round is coming from other Christian groups as well. Denominations recommending the curriculum to their congregations include other Mennonite groups, the Cumberland Presbyterians, and the Moravians.

Individual congregations from a wide range of denominations are also finding Gather ’Round online at www.gatherround.org, where visitors learn more about the curriculum, take advantage of training events offered during the introductory period, and order materials online.
“We’re pleased that the Anabaptist perspectives in the curriculum are resonating with other denominations,” said Ron Rempel, Executive Director of Mennonite Publishing Network. “Sales from cooperative users also help to strengthen the financial foundations of the curriculum project.”

The UCC is a U.S. denomination in the Reformed, congregationalist, and evangelical traditions with about 1.26 million members. UCC Christian Education leaders have chosen Gather ’Round as one of two curricula to recommend to their churches. In December, Anna Speicher, Gather ’Round project director and editor, was invited to lead a workshop to equip 18 UCC education consultants to lead regional training events. Those trained will then introduce Gather ’Round in UCC congregations.

The consultants responded extremely positively during their introduction to the curriculum, Speicher said. "They were especially interested in the parent/caregiver guide and the at-home Talkabout. They also resonated with the peace and justice and discipleship orientation of the curriculum. They liked the worshipful elements of the sessions, that we are teaching children that worship is not just something they do sitting in an uncomfortable pew with their legs dangling, but is something that they can make their own."


Sidebar: User feedback helps shape Gather ’Round curriculum

Scottdale, Pa. and Waterloo, Ont. — Celebration, evaluation, and planning were the focus at a Feb. 6-8 staff “summit” for the Gather ’Round curriculum project. The team celebrated successful production and sales of the first three quarters. Many Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations are reporting good experiences with the curriculum, and several other denominations have chosen to promote the curriculum to their members.

In evaluating and planning for the future, the staff paid special attention to feedback from users. “We were very grateful for those people who submitted an evaluation form after the first quarter or who contacted staff members by phone and e-mail,” reported Anna Speicher, project director and editor. “These comments are helping us refine and improve the Gather ’Round products. Ongoing refinements are possible because Gather ’Round is produced new every year.” Some enhancements will be made as early as the second year of the curriculum, which is currently in production.

Speicher noted that people have responded especially positively to the emphasis on connecting church and home. “We have received much affirmation for using the same Bible story for all age groups, for the parent/caregiver guide (Connect), and for the at-home Talkabout. These pieces help families connect on the Bible themes throughout the week.”

Staff received requests for more active options for younger children and more alternatives for readers and non-readers in the Primary unit, Speicher said. “To that end, we’ll be revising the Primary student book, the Good News Reader, for the fall of 2007. We’ll be adding more options in the teachers’ guides as well.”

Gather ’Round is a new Christian education curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network, the publishing agency of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.