Music and worship leaders gather at Laurelville conference

News release

January 18, 2019

Music and worship leaders gather at Laurelville conference

Eagerness mounts for Voices Together hymnal coming in 2020

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa.—“I’m amazed at the exhilaration that comes from a room full of voices singing together,” said Brent Alderfer, a member of Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, Pa. and part of a group of 11 persons from that congregation who joined the annual Laurelville Music and Worship Leaders Retreat in western Pennsylvania in early January.

Anticipation and energy for the new Voices Together music and worship collection, which is nearing the end of the research, song collection, and testing phase, was in high gear at Laurelville. A video of singing, plus a photo gallery by photographer Kreg Ulery of participants enjoying the worship, music, and jam sessions can be found on the website for the hymnal at voicestogetherhymnal.org.

Over 150 participants gathered to test and explore songs in strong consideration for the upcoming hymnal. The retreat focused on sections of the book from “Creation” through “Reign of Christ.”

Attendees learned about the joys and challenges of shaping a worship book for the 21st century church and examined leadership skills to take back to home congregations. Emily Rittenhouse, from Blooming Glen, noted, “I got a better grasp of what an enormous undertaking this has been for the team, and how much that has pulled them away from other important things in their lives.” She added, “It is a sacrifice and a gift that will be interwoven into the songs we sing for decades to come.” Project director Bradley Kauffman estimates the team has reviewed at least 5000 pieces of music.

Michael Bishop, pastor of music, worship and pastoral care at Blooming Glen is enthusiastic about the new collection. “Voices Together will honor our past peoplehood, provide tools for living in these days, and draw us toward the work of God, who is always leading into a new creation,” he said. He notes that the team from their church included choir singers, song leaders, and those involved in leading worship. Robin Schilling, a leader from Blooming Glen added, “I was inspired with new ideas for the coming year.”

Tom Lehman, a member of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship in Durham, N.C. mentioned, “We were encouraged in considerable detail to sing songs in more than our own native language. The idea, of course, is inclusivity.” Alderfer affirmed, “Singing connects us to people around the world.”

Adam Tice, text editor for the hymnal, suggested that a suitable hymn collection should probably include at least a few hymns that the individual user does not appreciate, always mindful that any particular song may be someone else’s “heart” song which resonates deeply with them.

Mark Diller Harder, pastor of St. Jacobs Mennonite Church in Ontario said “I am filled with deep confidence and trust in this dedicated team. There is thoughtfulness and intentionality that balances continuity and change, all with an openness to the Spirit’s leading.”

Pre-orders and final pricing will be available this summer at the Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA gatherings in June and July, respectively.

 

Staff Release
Mennonite Media
More information: LeAnn Hamby at 540 908 3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

 

 

 

“The Midianite Hour” and more false impressions about Mennonites

News release
January 2, 2019

“The Midianite Hour” and more false impressions about Mennonites
Intriguing questions of 2018 at 20-year-old website, Third Way

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Third Way website (originally known as Third Way Café) was launched in 1998, just over 20 years ago now. It came about in part because of The Mennonite Hour radio program that began in the early 1950s.

The Mennonite Hour aired on both religious and secular stations across the United States and Canada, and many people had never heard of Mennonites. As listeners wrote letters to the broadcast requesting free literature and eventually Bible correspondence courses, they tried valiantly to spell the name: The Midianite Hour, Man of the Knight Hour, Moonlight Hour, Minnow Night Hour, and Midnight Hour, according to a partial history, Mennonite Broadcasts: The First 25 Years by Hubert R. Pellman, published in 1979. People often asked about Mennonites beliefs and practices.

Queries arrived by letter and phone, and eventually by email and online questions to Third Way website. A dozen or so staff persons and volunteers have responded to these questions about Mennonites over the years. By the end of 2018, the number of emails had reduced from hundreds to dozens, since the curious often just google their questions and find answers. But some persons have questions that are not easily answered in an online search—nor are they easy to answer for the current volunteer, Dennis Kuhns, a retired Mennonite pastor in Harrisonburg.

Dennis Kuhns, with assistance from Edith Shenk Kuhns, answers questions at Third Way on a volunteer basis.

Here is an overview of 10 questions Kuhns responded to in 2018, which can give churches a glimpse of what the public may wonder about Mennonites:

MEMBERS FROM THE ’50s? Is there a list of members from the 1950s? I have pictures of meetings from that time, and I think my family religion of that time was Mennonites, but in the newspapers it just read: nondenominational. However, when I was growing up, we would meet at other members’ homes and each would take turns reading from the Bible and telling how it had affected them that week. Just trying to find any connections. —Lynda

WHAT ABOUT BUDDHA AND MOHAMMED? Jesus preaches, “Love your enemies; do not hate, be reconciled.” How about this: Have no enemies. Following Jesus is one way, but there are better ways. What about the way of Buddha? What about Krishna? What about Mohammed? I’m not trying to argue with you or outsmart you. I just don’t like how Christians say that Jesus is the only way. Also, Christians say if I do not believe in God and Jesus Christ, then I’m going to hell. Also, how can we ascertain that Jesus specifically said, “Love thy neighbor” and all various commands? The Bible was written after Jesus’s so-called death. Also, I heard in documentaries that names like Paul, Matthew, and John are “pen names.” We don’t know their real names. I question the validity of the Bible. [name withheld]

RULES OF THE CHURCH. I am looking for a church in the area of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I am also curious on the rules of the church. Thank you so much! —Gina

GOING MENNONITE OR AMISH. I am a 21-year-old female that is interested in going [into] the Amish and/or Mennonite community. I have never supported society and their ways of life and have become more fearful of where it may be heading. Ever since I can remember I have longed to learn how to live off of the land, farming and raising a family. There is a chance that I may be with child, my fiancé and I both do not agree with modern expectations in society and want to give our family the greatest chance of walking in the light of the Lord. —Sadie

RUNNING SHORT ON RENT. I was encouraged through my prayers to finally reach out for help. I started coming to your church and have been [there] several times, but my visits have been somewhat sporadic due to my health. I now find myself broken and in need. I will be having major surgery in several weeks but my sickness benefits have run out and I am struggling while waiting for my disability to come through. I am a single mom with a 16-year-old son and am running short on my rent and everything else. I don’t want to lose everything because of a short-term setback. I am college educated, have always been employed until a downsizing layoff about 14 months ago. I am writing to find out if the church can offer any kind of one-time assistance just to bridge the gap? —Tracey

MENNONITE RELIEF CAMPS IN WORMS? Would you know whom to contact about Mennonite camps near Worms, Germany, from 1944 to 1953? I have been looking online; however I cannot find anything. I do remember being in one, and a nice lady by the name of Snyder gave me a pair of white new shoes which I never forgot. Being 73 years old now, my relatives don’t have any knowledge. —Roswitha

GIFT FOR SINGERS? We have a wonderful community of Mennonites in our small town. They want to come sing for us at our home! I don’t know what to give them in return? —Valta

ENSLAVEMENT. Why are Mennonites against slavery?? —Ann

NURSING CULTURE PROJECT. I am a first-year nursing student and I have a culture project due Sept. 17 and my culture topic is Mennonites. I’d like to know what your beliefs are in regard to health and healthcare. Perhaps the church’s view on illness/health; pain; traditional or religious healing practices; concerns with modern treatment; increased risk of any particular disease; family dynamics; dietary considerations; respect; modesty; social concerns; hygiene; touch/personal space; end of life. —Kenya

FINDING JESUS. How do you know you found Jesus? —Tyriah

In addition to much historical and theological information on Mennonites at Third Way, several free daily, weekly, or monthly email subscriptions are available at thirdway.com/subscriptions: Media Matters, Living Simply, Wider View, Daily Scripture, and Stories of Peace. Third Way sponsors include Mennonite Mission Network, Everence, Peace & Justice Support Network, and Goodville Mutual. The website is curated by MennoMedia on behalf of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

For a history of the first 10 years of Third Way website, Mennonite Mission Network still has a news release posted called “Third Way Café celebrates a decade.” Jodi Nisly-Hertzler, who responded to Third Way questions for several years, wrote Ask Third Way Café: 50 Common and Quirky Questions about Mennonites, published by Cascadia Publishing, 2009.

—Staff release

Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
melodied@mennomedia.org

Who is my neighbor? MennoMedia 2019 vacation Bible school curriculum helps children love others

News release

December 13, 2018

Who is my neighbor?
MennoMedia 2019 vacation Bible school curriculum helps children love others

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Neighbors are more than people who live next door. Children will expand their ideas about neighbors and how to love others in the new vacation Bible school curriculum from MennoMedia, Who Is My Neighbor? Learning to Love like Jesus, available now for the summer of 2019.

Through five carefully selected Bible stories, Who Is My Neighbor? tells the story of Jesus teaching people the importance of loving God and each other; the parable of the good Samaritan; Isaac and Rebekah’s skirmish over wells; guests invited to a special banquet who refuse to attend; and the early disciples sharing with one another.

Who Is My Neighbor? can help churches address changing communities in positive ways while teaching children to follow the way of Jesus in all of life. Editor Mary Ann Weber notes that the theme “gets to the heart of the fact that we are to care for everyone, that everyone is our neighbor. The stories and activities offer concrete ways we can show care and concern to anyone.”

Written by various writers, the Bible story curriculum becomes real through worship, music, drama, crafts, games, and other activities. Two student books for children of different ages are offered, along with promotional material, a resource CD, a Bible memory verses poster, and participation certificates.

Who Is My Neighbor? may be ordered as an all-in-one starter kit that includes everything needed for planning and preparing an effective VBS program. Items are also sold separately. More information is at www.MennoMedia.org/vbs.

 

 

—Staff release

Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org