Old Order author Darla Weaver details spending Tuesday’s with Mom and family in new book

September 11, 2018

Old Order author Darla Weaver details spending Tuesday’s with Mom and family in new book

To sign books at Buckeye (Wooster, Ohio) Book Fair Nov. 3.

HARRISONBURG, Va.— Once a week Darla Weaver loads her children into the carriage, hitches up her spirited mare, and drives six miles to the farm where she grew up. In summer they ride bikes. Year round she gathers with her four sisters and their children for a day with their mother and grandmother.

In Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family, Weaver writes about her horse-and-buggy Mennonite family and the weekly gatherings that keep them connected.

On warm days, the children play, fish and, build houses with hay bales in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles, games, crocheting and “stamping.” No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other, even when raising an occasional loving but knowing eyebrow at each other.

The rest of the week is full of laundry, errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesdays are about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.

Donald B. Kraybill, bestselling author and oft-consulted expert on Amish- and Mennonite-related topics, lauds Gathering of Sisters as a “wonderful book that throbs with joy, laughter, and love on every page. Story after story takes us inside her fascinating world on a backroad to heaven.”

The Buckeye Book Fair takes place from 9:30-4:00 Nov. 3 at the Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research Center. More information at www.BuckeyeBookFair.com

Gathering of Sisters is the sixth book from Herald Press in the Plainspoken series of Amish and Mennonites writing about their daily lives. Weaver is a homemaker, gardener, writer, and Old Order Mennonite living in the hills of southern Ohio. She is the author of Water My Soul and Many Lighted Windows and has written for Family Life, Ladies’ Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines..

The book is now available from Herald Press (800-245-7894) for $14.99 (paperback) and 11.99 (ebook), favorite bookstores and online retailers. In Canada, order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule a phone interview with Darla Weaver, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

Voices Together Central Worship Practices Committee will seek input this fall

News Release
September 7, 2018

Group focused on worship practices gathers as part of the Voices Together project

Voices Together Central Worship Practices Committee will seek input this fall

HARRISONBURG, Va. — In addition to considering the songs we sing in worship, a group of people is taking a look at the words and actions that accompany central worship practices such as baptism, communion, child blessing, and funerals.

Six people who have been meeting virtually for the last two years via videoconference gathered together in person for the first and only time to speak through and listen to the worship resources that will be part of Voices Together, a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in 2020 for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

The Voices Together Central Practices Committee has been gathering and assessing the words that accompany baptism, communion, footwashing, child blessing, marriage, healing/anointing, funerals, membership, and leadership rituals. The committee refers to these acts of worship collectively as central practices because of their central role in expressing and forming Anabaptist Mennonite identity for individuals and congregations.

“We sing songs about who we are, but we also use words and actions to express our faith in congregational worship and at significant moments in our lives. These are resources congregations turn to again and again,” said Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor and co-chair of the committee. “When we baptize, we use water and words. When we share communion, we eat and drink, and we use words. We are caring both for what is said in worship and for instructions that aid leaders in preparing.”

Irma Fast Dueck, co-chair for the group, said, “It is a daunting task to attempt to find language that accompanies an experience such as baptism or communion, for these are practices whose meaning dwarfs any words that could possibly be said. And these words may be repeated by the church for the next 25 years or more. That’s overwhelming, and yet as I work alongside this group on these practices, I felt a remarkable sense of connection—to those working with me and the deep and rich tradition. The whole experience made me feel remarkably hopeful. And blessed.”

The Central Practices Committee that is part of the Voices Together project includes (from left to right) Irma Fast Dueck, Isaac Villegas, Heidi Miller, Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Adam Tice, and Allan Rudy-Froese.

Johnson, along with Adam Tice and Allan Rudy-Froese, is also part of the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee working on the new hymnal. Other members of the Central Practices Committee are Isaac Villegas and Heidi Miller.

The group started by talking through the theological and practical core of each practice and identifying the types of resources to include in Voices Together to support each practice, said Johnson. Writers, mostly pastors and scholars, have been creating drafts of these resources since April 2018. The three-day gathering in August allowed the committee to workshop and hone them, thinking through the practical ways in which someone speaks while holding a child or sharing the cup. It’s work that couldn’t have happened in the same way in a video chat. “You can’t read corporately online,” said Johnson.

Versions of these resources will be available later this fall for several months of testing, according to Johnson. “We wish to give communities the opportunity to explore, test, and respond to these resources before they are published,” she said. If you are interested in having your congregation test these worship resources, please email editorial assistant Karen Gonzol (KarenG@MennoMedia.org) before October 1, 2018.

Central worship practices can be a source of tension and division within the denomination. Mennonites, like other denominations, are wrestling with the large questions of who receives communion, who is allowed to be married, and who is able to be ordained. Though Voices Together is a denominational hymnal project, it is local congregations who make choices about central practices that can be divisive in the church as a whole. There’s diversity within the Mennonite church, and both the Worship and Song Committee and the Central Practices group are trying to offer resources for a range of congregations. “We aspire to prepare resources with enough space for local congregations and other bodies to make a range of choices regarding these questions,” said Johnson.

The resources will be included in the hymnal, and additional options and instructions will be found in a leader book that accompanies the hymnal.

It is in worship that these words will come to life, said Villegas. “This has been spiritual work, intimate labor—to receive the phrases and sentences from faithful people from the broad expanse of our tradition, from the past and the present, and to hone their words into prayers and litanies that will sustain the faith of all of us,” he said. “My hope is that our people will experience themselves drawn into God’s life when they turn these words into flesh through their worship.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540-908- 3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

 

Hymnal volunteer hours valued at $296,280 annually

News Release

August 29, 2018                                                                                                                  Hymnal volunteer hours valued at $296,280 annually

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Producing a new hymnal is a major undertaking. A project of this significance takes many hours and substantial funding. Before the Voices Together hymnal is ever produced, MennoMedia will spend approximately $700,000 in production and development costs.

As this significant monetary figure is one crucial part of the momentum behind Voices Together, it is worth remembering that many in-kind donations are essential for completing a project of this magnitude. The volunteer Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is contributing extraordinary levels of time and expertise to bring Voices Together to fruition. In addition to the 12 committee members, more than 50 other volunteers have contributed directly to the collection on subcommittees and as consultants, with many others making their voices heard through surveys, community events, and financial contributions to the project.

2016 photo of the volunteer Worship and Song Committee. At the far left are project director Bradley Kauffman and Amy Gingerich, executive director and publisher at MennoMedia, quoted in this news release.

The 12 members of the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee have committed many hours to collection work. “Committee members and affiliated networks of scholars, writers, pastors, and musicians are donating an estimated 12,000 hours annually,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director for Voices Together. “Frequent video conferences, independent work, and three in-person meetings per year add up to a life-altering level of volunteer commitment for each member. They are giving an extraordinary gift to the Mennonite church.” The number of hours is likely to climb as the committee begins its third and most labor-intensive year of work in September.

The organization Independent Sector values volunteer time at $24.69 per hour. Applying this approximation to volunteer hours brings the annual monetary value of hours donated to the hymnal project to roughly $296,280.

“Every member of the committee is highly dedicated to this project, and each one brings expertise in specific areas. It has been amazing to see them bring their many gifts together for the benefit of the church,” said Amy Gingerich, executive director and publisher at MennoMedia. “As a small church agency, this project would not be possible without their volunteer hours, and we are so grateful for their work.”

MennoMedia is accepting donations for the new hymnal collection by check or online at VoicesTogetherHymnal.org.

For more information about the Mennonite Worship and Song Collection project or to schedule an interview with Bradley Kauffman, project director, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908-3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.