Pre-release special price on Fifty Shades of Grace

I am pleased to announce that I have a chapter in a newly published book, Fifty Shades of Grace, by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia and Waterloo, Ontario. The book will be released May 1.

fiftyshadesofgraceAs a special introduction, Herald Press is offering a 30% discount on the book until May 9. The book sells for $12.99. To order the book, contact MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or click this link, MennoMedia.

The book is a collection of true inspirational stories about experiencing God’s grace in the midst of everyday life. Each of the fifty essays explores what grace looks like in action—even in a world jaded by violence and unforgiveness—and how grace can triumph over tragedy, or the daily annoyances of family life.

The chapter I wrote, entitled “Testing my Peace Stance,” tells about accompanying my late father, Richard, on an Honor Flight for World War II veterans. Stories are also included from noted writers Jim Wallis, John Powell, John Perkins, Lovella Schellenberg, Christopher Kennedy Lawford and many others, mostly from the Mennonite/Anabaptist tradition.

In his foreword, Donald Kraybill says, “The stories compel, mesmerize and strike again and again with wonderment for the many colors of God’s lavish love. These contemporary stories of grace all rub against the grain of popular culture. They offer a redemptive counterpoint to the darkness and oppression lurking in the shadows of bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.” Kraybill, an authority on Anabaptist groups, is a co-author of Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy and author of many other books.

©Bruce Stambaugh 2013

Churches ready for another candlelight walk

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Brooke Hershberger entertained participants of last year’s church walk at Millersburg Mennonite Church.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The event has such a straightforward name. Yet, participating in the annual Millersburg Candlelight Church Walk is so much more than that.

Yes, it is a walk, unless you choose to drive from church to church. This year six churches within walking distance in and close to Historical Downtown Millersburg, Ohio are set to host visitors on Friday, December 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. Millersburg is located 35 miles southwest of Canton, 75 miles south of Cleveland or 80 miles northeast of Columbus.

The churches are chosen for the proximity as well as their historical significance, according to Kate Findley, who is the volunteer coordinator for the event, now in its third year.

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Kate Findley (left), coordinator for the church walk, shared about the Presbyterian Church at last year’s church walk.
“We want those who can do so to be able to walk from church to church,” Findley said. “Those who cannot walk are welcome to drive to each church.”

Besides the physical exercise, people who participate in the tour will also learn about the history of each church. Findley said representatives from each congregation would be available to share about their church and answer any questions. For example, some of the church buildings have housed different denominations over the years.

In addition, the various churches in the walk have unique architectural features that people should find interesting. From ornate bell towers to stained glass windows to intricate pulpits, each church has its own structural story.

“This is an opportunity for people who might drive by these churches frequently without ever being inside them to see what they look like,” Findley said.

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Participants in the church walk can view special Christmas decorations and traditions at each of the participating churches.

The six churches included in the candlelight walk include Faith Lutheran Church, 187 S. Clay St.; First Presbyterian Church, 90 S. Clay St.; Grace Pointe Community Church, 164 N. Washington St.; Millersburg Christian Church, 125 N. Clay St.; Millersburg Mennonite Church, 288 E. Jackson St., and St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 379 S. Crawford St.

“The walk committee is really excited to have Grace Pointe Community Church join the walk this year,” Findley said. The building formerly housed the United Methodist Church. Findley emphasized that participants can visit the churches in any order they choose. Maps of church locations will be available at each church.

“There is no starting or ending place,” Findley said. “We are encouraging people to participate in the special music and Christmas carol singing after the walk.”

A special music presentation and singing of carols at Millersburg Mennonite Church will begin at 8:15 p.m. Members of Millersburg Mennonite will perform vocal and instrumental pieces as well.

Each church will be decorated for the holidays according to the particular traditions of each congregation, Findley said. Luminaries will decorate the path to each church. Participants are also invited to relax at each church and enjoy the music presented. Participants will also have a chance to taste the culinary skills of the various church parishioners. Refreshments, including homemade Christmas cookies, will be available at each church building.

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“The Millersburg Candlelight Church Walk is an excellent time for families to get in the holiday spirit,” Findley said. “It’s fun for everyone.” During the first two years of the church tour, participants represented several generations. Findley said that the church walk gained such notoriety in its first two years that people from other counties contacted her about starting one in their communities.

“I think that says a lot about the quality of the Millersburg Church Walk,” she said.

Findley noted that participants should be aware that the Grace Pointe Church is not handicapped accessible, and that parking is across the street from the church.

The walk is free and open to the public. Besides county residents, several persons from outside the Holmes County area attended the previous two walks.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

Bible antiquities on display

By Bruce Stambaugh

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Dr. Rev. Kenneth Walther showed some of the antiquities that will be on display at his church near Millersburg, OH.
During October, Holmes County, Ohio area residents have a unique opportunity to view firsthand biblical antiquity items dating back to 2,000 B.C.

The church’s pastor for the past 15 years, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Walther has arranged for multiple items representative of the first five books of the Bible to be viewed by the public and members of his congregation. All of the items are on loan from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland.

How was a church of 100 parishioners in Millersburg able to acquire such a collection, even on a loan basis? The answer is easy. In addition to serving as the pastor of the church, Walther is also an adjunct professor at the Ashland Seminary. He had taught Bible courses there for 33 years prior to his retirement in 2009.

“Really, the reason the artifacts are here is in conjunction with The Story Bible study project we are holding in the church through April,” Walther said. “The entire church, youth through adults, is studying the same scriptural passages each week.”

Walther said the antiquity items, which range from samples of parchment writing to clay vessels, are part of a 1,500-item collection at the seminary. He said he gives tours on a regular basis there.

“This was really a spontaneous idea,” he explained, “to give people a firsthand look at what some of the Old Testament Bible characters would have used in their everyday life.”

Items will be on display each Sunday in October at the church from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. On Oct. 28, a special open house will be held where additional artifacts can be viewed between noon and 5 p.m. Walther will be available from 3-5 p.m. that same day to take questions.

Walther said the items span the lives of Abraham, Joshua, David and Solomon. He said the items represent three specific cultural areas, Cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia, pieces from Egypt and artifacts from the land of Canaan.

“Mesopotamia is the land from where Abraham originated,” Walther said. “We have pieces of colored mummy wrapping from Egypt, and various practical items like jugs from Canaan.”

Specifically, Walther said, the display includes clay tablets from Ancient Mesopotamia, scribe boxes, stone inscriptions in hieroglyphics, and fragments of pottery from Egypt. Items from Canaan include water jugs, lamps, bowls, pilgrim flasks and a variety of cosmetic items that were used thousands of years ago.

Walther said the church decided to share both the study and the artifacts with the general public. He said people could participate in The Story, which is an international study, each Sunday.

“We will discuss the lessons including some of the objects during Sunday school, which begins at 9 a.m.,” he said. His sermon will expand on the themes presented each Sunday.

Walther said the seminary purchased all of the items from private collections and antiquities dealers. All items were obtained by those sources prior to the 1967 six-day war in Israel. Since then, he said, such items are prohibited from being taken from the country.

Walther said The Story is an attempt to introduce people to the Bible, history, and background and interpretation of the cultures of biblical times. He said study materials are available for entire families. The Story was written by scholars from various denominations and published by Zondervan Press.

“We even have a special New International Version Bible to accompany The Story materials that focus on particular events of the Bible,” Walther said.

He said the sampling of items on display at St. John’s Church provides a physical handle on the picture of the Bible. The church is located at 8670 state Route 39 west of Millersburg.

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St. John’s Church of Millersburg, OH.

The story appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012