Drew G. I. Hart’s first book, Trouble I’ve Seen, releases Jan. 19

TroubleIveSeenNews Release

JANUARY 6, 2016

Book on racism and the church attracting acclaim

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario— What if racial reconciliation doesn’t look like what you expected?

In a provocative new book, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, theologian, former pastor, and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, anti-black stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. With a foreword by reconciliation scholar and author Christena Cleveland, Hart challenges Christians with an honest look at injustice while offering churches concrete practices for living faithfully in a racialized society. The book will be published by Herald Press on January 19, 2016.

The book blends stories, theology, and social analysis, and has already received a positive review by Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine of the publishing industry: “In this emotionally wrenching yet accessible book, Hart provides an overview of systemic racism in the U.S. today, as well as the responses of Bible-based Christian theology. The book is a savvy and balanced blend of topics that should serve as a useful introduction for Christians of all races.”

Englewood Review of Books has named it to the “Top 50 Books for Christian Readers to Watch for in 2016” and Publishers Weekly placed it on their list of African-American Interest Adult Titles for 2015-2016.


Drew Hart, author

In Trouble I’ve Seen, Hart looks at the high-profile killings of black men and women in recent years by police officers, and the protests and violence that have ensued. “These events have convinced many white Christians to reexamine their intuitions when it comes to race and justice,” Hart says.

Hart argues that white Christians have repeatedly gotten it wrong about race because the dominant culture has so thoroughly shaped their social intuitions and assumptions. He also challenges black Christians to not neglect the most vulnerable in their own communities. Hart offers practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice by pointing to the example of Jesus.

 “This book is a conversation with the church to help us understand race and racism better than we currently do,” says Hart. “It challenges us to respond more faithfully to our current racialized moment, considering how Jesus-shaped lives can transform us and our witness in society.”

Rachel Held Evans, bestselling author, writes of Hart’s book: “An unforgettable read, Trouble I’ve Seen deserves the church’s full attention and considered action. It certainly challenged and changed me.”

Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, finds that “Hart makes a courageous and compelling call to the church to get on the road to racial reconciliation and righteousness.”

Herald Press managing editor Valerie Weaver-Zercher says, “This prophetic, practical book is for anyone who is saddened or angered or baffled by the racialized society that shapes all of us. Drew is a compassionate and incisive guide, giving us tools for understanding our times and for aligning with God’s transformative work.”

Hart is a PhD candidate in constructive theology and ethics at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with 10 years of pastoral ministry experience. An adjunct professor at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pa., Hart regularly speaks at churches, conferences, and colleges. He writes a blog hosted by Christian Century titled, Taking Jesus Seriously and has contributed to other publications including  A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World, Sojourners, and The Mennonite.

Hart, his wife, Renee, and two young sons, Micah and Dietrich, live in Philadelphia.

Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism is available for $16.99 at www.heraldpress.com as well as local bookstores and other retail websites.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

for more information on the news release
Melodie Davis


Herald Press receives 2016 Christianity Today Book Award

ChristianMuslimFriendNEWS RELEASE
JANUARY 4, 2016

Shenk’s book on friendship with Muslims tops Missions/The Global Church category

In Christian. Muslim. Friend. Twelve Paths to Real Relationship, Shenk lays out twelve ways that Christians can form authentic relationships with Muslims. He and his wife, Grace, have been longtime mission workers in various Middle Eastern and African settings.

“At a time when relations between Christians and Muslims are more complex than ever, Shenk has given us a wonderfully thoughtful account of how to build real relationships,” wrote Brian Howell, professor of anthropology at Wheaton College and one of the judges for the book awards. “Without giving formulas or reducing Muslims to a single type, Shenk draws on his vast experience in many parts of the world to provide an encouraging way forward for anyone seeking to share the hope of the gospel with their Muslim neighbors.”

Lynne Hybels, cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church has endorsed the book, saying, “It’s hard to imagine a more timely book than Christian. Muslim. Friend.

DavidShenkShenk emphasizes that Christians can build relationships with Muslims that are characterized by respect, hospitality, and candid dialogue and that still bear witness to the Christ-centered commitments of their faith. Shenk is the author of numerous books on understanding Islam and building relationships with Muslims, including a series called Christians Meeting Muslims. Christian. Muslim. Friend. is book four of that series.

Based on fifty years of friendship with Muslims in Somalia, Kenya, and the United States, the book includes stories of the author’s animated conversations with Muslim clerics, visits to countless mosques around the globe, and pastors and imams who are working together toward understanding and peace. Shenk works with EMM’s team on Christian/Muslim relations.

Christianity Today gave out 13 top awards (one category had a tie) for 2016, with runner-up merit awards in each category. See other book awards at http://tinyurl.com/christianitytoday2016BkAwards. 

Herald Press is the trade publisher for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

MennoMedia Staff

Hi-res photos available
for more information on the news release
Melodie Davis


A Short History of Mennonite Hymnals – Presentation by Ken Nafziger

nafzigkjHow our hymns influence and reflect our changing theology

Dr. Kenneth J. Nafziger, longtime and noted professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University—plus a key figure in putting together a hymnal and two song supplements—spoke at a recent breakfast meeting of a group called Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society (ACRS).

His topic? How our hymns influence and reflect our changing theology.

Former radio speaker Margaret Foth introduced Ken and reflected on memories of her mother singing—almost every morning—the familiar “I owe the Lord a morning song, of gratitude and praise . . .” There were numerous affirmative nods around the room—obviously a similar remembrance for many.

As Ken got up to speak about the history of Mennonite hymnals, he first told a story of P1080508the origins of this “quintessentially Mennonite” hymn, written by Amos Herr, a Lancaster County (Pa.) bishop. One Sunday morning when the snow was s deep Amos’s horse couldn’t make it through the drifts to church, Amos wrote this song of gratitude. “It has been in every hymnal since then,” Ken noted, a “simple and sturdy tune like Shaker furniture, with clearly conveyed ideas.”

This story reminded Ken of the time he took a group of EMU students to southwestern Germany, an area from which the predecessors of many North American Mennonites hail. Some in that tour group were music students, and someone in a congregation they were visiting asked that they sing “I Owe the Lord a Morning Song.“ Many of the EMU students, youngsters that they are, didn’t know it! So the congregation in Germany sang it in English for the EMU students! They said that PAX and CPS volunteers in the late ’50s and early ’60s had taught them the song.

Ken followed his wonderful story by launching the roomful of expectant listeners into a rich a cappella verse or two. I don’t think anyone was disappointed to sing this old song, nor in Ken’s rundown that followed of Mennonite hymnals in the U.S. (an admittedly incomplete history, he noted). Many of the old timers (I’ll count myself as one) in the audience remembered these titles, all published by Mennonite Publishing House or Herald Press (the ones with links are still sold on the MennoMedia store).


Below are just 11 out of his list of 25 of “Mennonite Hymnals in the U.S.”

1902 Church and Sunday School Hymnal
1916: Life Songs #1
1924: Children’s Hymns and Songs
1927: Church Hymnal
1938: Life Songs #2
1947: Junior Hymns
1969: The Mennonite Hymnal (from whence came #606)
Sing and Rejoice, Sing the Journey, and Sing the Story, 1979, 2005, and 2007, respectively
1992 Hymnal: A Worship Book (co-published with Brethren Press for Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations)

Ken gave additional juicy one-liners about the difficult job of producing a new song collection that pleases everyone. Some of these may have been quotes from other people:

  • The only thing wrong with a new hymn is that no one knows it yet.
  • It is easy to slide into ruts in our music.
  • The power of social singing—for the fun of it—is underestimated.
  • #606 was put into a section of the 1969 hymnal that had songs more difficult to sing. When its new number in Hymnal: A Worship Book, #118, was first announced in some venues, there were audible boos and hisses!
  • New hymnals unleash new creativity by poets, pastors and musicians who want to publish new hymns they’ve written or composed.
  • Catholics originally did not sing during their worship—that changed with Vatican II when they were told they could or should sing.
  • Many of us remember the Medical Mission Sisters, a nun’s group out of South America in the ’60s, which popularized folk-type music for Catholic worship.
  • Old Mennonites did not traditionally use instruments; Ken remembers one Gospel Herald editor writing that a guitar was the perfect accompaniment for worship because it was “so cheap.”
  • Songs with rhythm have been a serious challenge for Mennonites.
  • The first printing of Sing and Rejoice was withdrawn and destroyed because it had a stanza with the word “gay” in it.
  • The 1992 hymnal was the first hymnal for Mennonites to be organized according to different acts or movements of worship such as gathering, praise, thanksgiving.
  • It was also the first hymnal with a section on “doubt.” Ken said people thanked him for helping to create a section on doubt in a hymnal.
  • “How Great Thou Art” cost more to include than any other song; it should perhaps never have been copyrighted.

P1080509Finally, Ken offered practical ideas and thoughts as you use music in your congregation:

  • Consider giving children or youth a hymnal upon baptism or confirmation.
  • You can tell if you’re getting into ruts with your music if there is one or more section of pages whose edges are very well used or smudgy from hands.
  • Always use a song from the global church in every service, as a reminder that we have a global church, and a prompt that the way we live in the world is different.
  • Congregants are often more moved by songs than the sermon. Music moves words close to the heart and soul.

Work on a new song collection begins in earnest in early 2016. The new hymnal project organizers are soliciting applications for paid staff (full and part time), and volunteers.

Anyone who is an active member of a Mennonite Church Canada or Mennonite Church USA congregation can apply to be on the hymnal committee. In addition to a short application, those applying to be on the hymnal committee must provide three references, including one pastoral reference. To apply or get more information, click here. To read the complete news release on the project, check here.



 If you’re on Twitter, you can help spread the word with this ready-made Tweet:

Want to be part of shaping what Mennonites sing?@MennoMedia staff are working on it! Site goes live Jan 1. Watch for more on #project606.


Have you ever wondered, are all Mennonites good singers??


In addition to his EMU course load, Kenneth Nafziger is artistic director and conductor of the annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival (Harrisonburg, Va.), and of Winchester Musica Viva (in Winchester, Va.). He was music editor of ‘Hymnal: A Worship Book’ (1992), editor of its accompaniment handbook, and assistant to the editor of ‘Sing the Journey’ (2005) and ‘Sing the Story’ (2007). He is active in the United States and Canada as a guest conductor, workshop leader and clinician. He co-authored a book ‘Singing, a Mennonite Voice’, which was released in 2001. For more information on Ken go to his personal web page.