New adult colouring book of prayers from Herald Press

by
Luisa Miller, MennoMedia intern
;
May 8, 2017
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Mennonite Church Canada/MennoMedia
Cover of "Amish Prayers: A Colouring Book" (Herald Press, April 2017).
Winnipeg, Man. and Harrisonburg, Va.

Last fall, Herald Press took its first step into the world of adult devotional coloring books with Beloved Amish and Mennonite Quilts. Its latest addition to the field, Amish Prayers, offers fraktur drawings and thoughtful, contemplative prayers from Anabaptist history. The collection was released April 4, 2017.

The 43 prayers are translated and adapted from Dieernsthafte Christenpflicht (Prayer Book for Earnest Christians), a traditional Amish prayer book used by Anabaptists in the 1500s and 1600s and still used by Amish folks today.

In the coloring book, each prayer is presented on the left side of each spread along with a related Bible verse and room for journaling. On the facing page is an illustration to color, incorporating a key phrase from the accompanying prayer using fraktur, a type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art.

Lynn Sommers, an artist and member of Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, created each coloring page. Pages tear out easily if users want to display or give away their artwork.

“My ink and watercolor paintings are often inspired by traditional Swiss Mennonite and Pennsylvania German fraktur motifs from my heritage,” Sommers said. “The fraktur form drew me in as a young child because there was something sacred in the combination of names, dates, and sacred events such as baptisms and births recognized within the faith community. The folk art images in fraktur show a beautiful union between art and religion.”

The designs are symmetrical and often repetitive, aiding prayerful contemplation of a central idea. Some are more realistic and some more abstract, and many are a mixture of both, according to the artist. The designs frequently implement nature images of birds, flowers, plants, and the sun.

Sommers says that the process of creating the illustrations was “an artistic and spiritual discipline intertwined. I would first read the prayer, focus on the designated short phrase to be incorporated into the design, browse early fraktur designs, turn on contemplative music, then begin sketching.”

The book’s preface is written by an Old Order Amish woman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who prefers that her name not be used. In the preface, she recounts fond memories of her father praying these prayers aloud and writes about how meaningful it is to pray prayers written centuries ago by Anabaptist Christians undergoing severe persecution.

In reflecting on the process of creating the art for Amish Prayers, Sommers concluded, “I am grateful for the spiritual pilgrimage this project has brought into my life. I am hopeful for coloring book connoisseurs as they embark on their spiritual journey with the Amish Prayers coloring book.”

Amish Prayers is available for $14.99 at www.commonword.ca/go/1196.

Herald Press is the book publishing imprint of MennoMedia, a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. MennoMedia resources can be previewed and/or purchased at www.commonword.ca , where sale items are priced competitively with major online retailers, and loaned books are shipped free. You can also browse MennoMedia resources at www.mennomedia.org. Your purchases help support Mennonite Church Canada and its publisher.

Photo Credits: 
Provided.