Faith Formation: A K-12 Experience

July 30, 2019 / Andrea Wenger
Anna Haarer and 8th grade students prepare snacks for elementary students as part of Community Service Day.
Anna Haarer and 8th grade students prepare snacks for elementary students as part of Community Service Day.

Whether it’s required Bible classes, Spanish language discussion, service to others, or how we interact as athletes, faith formation happens throughout the day — kindergarten through grade 12 — at EMS.

All three divisions use the Encounter curriculum, developed by Mennonite Schools Council, which focuses on holistic faith formation through encounters with God, each other and creation.
K-5 students focus on how we create Shalom: student to student, teacher to student, student to teacher, classroom to school. They learn about peace with each other, with God and with creation, learning stories of Jesus.

Grade 6 students develop a basic understanding of the Bible and discover the tools available to help study the Bible.

Grade 7: How small is a mustard seed? Students explore Jesus’ parables and use technology learned in Digital Literacy 7 to create projects.

Grade 8: Live the Story. Students learn about global and local church practices. Throughout the year, they examine how their personal story connects with God’s story.

Grade 9: Creation and Promise covers caring for God’s creation; listening to God’s voice; working for God’s shalom; and living God’s way through Old and New Testament and present-day stories.

Grade 10: Sermon on the Mount. Students study Matthew 5 to 7, memorizing small sections each week. Sue Swartz taught the class for 19 years before retiring in 2018 and notes that memorization was a tradition long before she picked up the course.

“As followers of Jesus, these verses are key to our understanding of how he lived and treated others. They span all times and seem to always be fresh and applicable to the present,” Swartz reflects. “In the Bible curriculum, pieces of this scripture are visited and revisited.”

Grade 12: Kingdom Living is required for all seniors and focuses on how the Kingdom of God impacts our lives in the areas of peace and justice, stewardship, salvation, and mission. The class culminates with each senior sharing a 20-minute reflection on their academic and faith journey with friends, faculty, parents and the community.

High school elective Bible courses include:
-Christian Ministry
-Global Anabaptism
-Global Christianity
-Philosophy, Theology and Apologetics

Outside the Classroom
E-term (high school) and Explore Week (middle school): In urban and rural settings; on bicycles, chopping wood, creating with hands, singing sacred music and more, with a small group of peers guided by faculty and staff.

Community Service Day: More than 250 middle and high school students in 20 organizations. “Go and be the Body!” challenged Abby Stapleton ’20 in opening reflections.

National Honor Society: Raised money to prepare 140 hygiene kits for Mennonite Central Committee distribution to displaced families around the world.

Touring Choir: More than 20 programs this spring in area churches and on their tour. Students often reflect on music making, particularly choral singing across grades, as important faith development.

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