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(Mennonite Education Agency) – The new Encounter curriculum, a pre-K to grade 12 Anabaptist/Christian faith formation curriculum, is currently in its pilot year in schools of Mennonite Schools Council (MSC). Faculty who are using the curriculum are invited to share feedback and perspectives of the curriculum through a survey and at the Mennonite Educators Conference (MEC) conference that takes place Feb. 1-3, 2018 in Leesburg, Va.  

Encounter grew out of requests from teachers in member schools of MSC. A survey of teachers affirmed that this curriculum should be focused on faith formation grounded in the Anabaptist/Christian stream of theology, and at the same time be warmly ecumenical. The writing process included fifteen writers representing six MSC schools, and some testing and revision also took place previously in the 2016-2017 school year.

The curriculum uses a narrative, Biblical approach with the incarnation as its base and a focus on how the biblical story is told through people at the margins of society. It includes a “missional commitment” of joining with God in bringing healing and hope to the world. At various stages, it encourages students to respond with wonder, experiential learning and studying world religions. It also includes Circle of Grace, a Christian safe-environment curriculum for teaching appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries.

“Encounter is generating conversation with schools beyond the MSC orbit,” said Elaine Moyer, senior director at MEA. “Christian schools seem aware that it is time for a refreshed way of approaching the Bible.”

Some of these refreshed approaches, Moyer explains, include emphasizing theology from a global context, faith formation and freedom for teachers to incorporate context and culture into teaching.

Facilitated discussion around Encounter will take place at the upcoming MEC conference, where educators and leaders from MSC schools will gather for professional development. Resources, stories and suggestions will be used to refine this collaborative work as next steps are determined to make the curriculum available for wider use.

The MEC conference, sponsored by MEA and Everence, will also encourage participants to explore where God is at work through Mennonite education with the theme Unexpected Encounters … God Surprises. The conference includes keynote speakers Daniel Porterfield, president of Franklin & Marshall College–newly appointed to lead the Aspen Institute, and Sarah Bixler, PhD student in practical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary with a focus on Christian education and formation. MennoCamps will replace traditional workshops as space for teachers to engage educational topics of significance.

 

Contributed by Mennonite Church USA/MEA Staff  –  1/16/2018