MennoMedia, on behalf of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, is working to create a new Mennonite hymnal by 2020. I have been tasked with raising more than $600,000 to pay for the work of a 13-person hymnal committee, a full-time project director, a half-time administrative assistant and other support staff and services. We’re off to a good start.
Bradley Kauffman began work as the Project Director in July 2016 and later that summer 13 others were appointed to serve with him on the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee.
This committee includes persons from both Canada and the US.
The committee has met several times, most recently at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan, in early September. (Read a recent report on their work here.) The committee has enjoyed frequent contact and mentorship from Mary Oyer, Rebecca Slough, Kenneth Nafziger, Marilyn Houser Hamm, Marlene Kropf and other veterans of previous hymnal projects beyond the Mennonite Church.
As I meet with individuals, inviting them to support this endeavor financially, I am sometimes asked “Why do we need a new hymnal?” In short, refreshing a worship and song collection once a generation is one of the cycles of a forward-looking church. Hymnals are of a generational moment. They mark a particular threshold showing where the church has been and where the spirit of God may be leading. They hold comfort and nostalgia while leaning earnestly to challenge and prophetic action. As the urgencies of church life and identity shift from generation to generation, worship rhythms respond to this Spirit-movement.
The Mennonite Hymnal (red) was published in 1969.
The blue Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB) was released in 1992.
That is a span of 23 years between the red and blue hymnals, both of which were developed before the digital age. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hymnal: A Worship Book and it will be another three years until a new hymnal is available. A new generation of spirit-led, prophetic church music has been written in the last quarter century. The way the church uses music is also changing. Available electronic formats will help the new collection meet the needs of twenty-first century worshipers. Many of our faith communities are expressing eager anticipation of this forthcoming resource.
The new hymnal will retain durable material from HWB and the two supplements, Sing the Journey (2005) and Sing the Story (2007), while introducing new music and worship resources geared for the 21st century church.
Those who give a gift of at least $500 toward this project, between now and 2019, will have 40 characters (including spaces) in the back of the hymnal to honor a loved one, include a snippet from a hymn or a favorite verse of Scripture. Persons may also include their own names or give anonymously. To date we have raised $378,000 in gifts and faith promises or 62% of the $606,000 goal. Larger gifts entitle the giver to 80 characters. If you have questions about giving to support this important project email me at SteveC@mennomedia.org.
The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, going by the name Resonate Team, has invited congregations to hold a Great Day of Singing on Sunday October 22. Click here to view downloadable music and worship resources available for your congregation to plan worship for that day.
Thank you for your interest in this project. The Mennonite church has a rich tradition of robust congregational singing. A gift to Project 606 will help offer this legacy to the next generation.