As Tabor Mennonite Church engages with Year of the Bible (YOB) sponsored by Western District Conference (WDC), the congregation isn’t fiddling with a verse here, a chapter there.
Rather, the congregation – guided by Philip Schmidt, pastor, and Rosie Jantz, associate pastor – are tracing the whole story of scripture from Genesis to Revelation in the form of the heilsgeschicte. That’s the German word for salvation history. This fall, the church began its exploration of the biblical timeline and study material taught by Bible professors Marion Bontrager and Michele Hershberger at Hesston (Kan.) College.
Each Sunday will include worship, a biblical-oriented snack and “formation stations.” For example, on Sept. 8, the theme was creation. Schmidt preached a sermon on the topic. The snacks were chocolate balls covered with foil pictures of creation and animal crackers. And seven formation stations – implemented by Jantz as Sunday school electives — focused the theme through prayer, Bible study, discussion, peace, visual arts, music and drama.
“The YOB is providing a unique opportunity for our congregation to dive into God’s word so that we can embrace God’s story as our own and live into God’s story in our world today,” Schmidt said.
Jantz said, “The YOB is helping us in our seven stations to reflect on how God works in our daily lives through different lenses.”
Schmidt and Jantz have developed materials to complement the themes, including a huge heilsgeschicte banner stretched across the front of the sanctuary. Three-ring binders include the timeline, worship schedule, a chronological Bible reading plan, weekly handouts that highlight the scriptures used in the sermon, family discussion questions, a few reflection questions and room for notes. The children also participate in a children’s time and receive a smaller, age-appropriate binder.
“We want to help people creatively respond to God’s written Word in ways they may not have tried before,” Jantz said.