Voices Together announced as title for new hymnal

Matching gift campaign for hymnal launched by Everence and MCC U.S.; option for matching gifts also launches in Canada

HARRISONBURG, Va.—The new worship and song collection for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada will be called Voices Together.

“In early February more than 900 people responded to a title and cover survey we released via our MennoMedia Facebook page,” said Amy Gingerich, executive director and publisher at MennoMedia. “Of the four title choices offered, Voices Together was the clear favorite.”

Simultaneously, MennoMedia announces the launch of a final fundraising phase for the project, called “Voices Together, Giving Together.”

As of mid-May, $465,000 toward the $700,000 fund-raising goal had been pledged or given for Voices Together. As a small church agency, MennoMedia does not have the cash reserves to undertake such a large project and is working to cover all development costs for this hymnal with donations.

Gingerich said Everence® and Mennonite Central Committee U.S. have stepped up as partners in this final fund-raising phase to complete the work on Voices Together, offering a combined $100,000 matching gift for any new donations to the hymnal project. “This will be a dollar-for-dollar match, open to anyone, beginning immediately,” she explained.

In Canada, an anonymous family foundation in Ontario has also generously offered to match all donations to Voices Together, up to $15,000. This too is a dollar-for-dollar match and open to anyone, beginning immediately.

“I believe these very generous matching gifts will spur generosity across the church to help MennoMedia finish off the new hymnal,” Gingerich remarked in announcing the campaign. “Like MennoMedia, Everence and Mennonite Central Committee care about the life and vitality of our congregations, where music is a key element of worship. Their joint financial support helps ensure that the final worship and song collection will be affordable for congregations.

Voices Together is an exciting new worship and song collection that will deepen our lives of faith,” added Ken Hochstetler, president and CEO of Everence. “In support of the financial wellbeing of congregations and church members across denominational and cultural lines, we’re glad to support MennoMedia’s efforts and to help make this resource available to all.”

Bradley Kauffman, general editor of Voices Together points out, “The church is made up of diverse, sometimes disparate voices. When we gather together for worship, we form the body of Christ. Voices Together celebrates the miracle that takes place when two or three form a communion of believers.”

Voices Together will include spoken words for worship, visual art, and songs. All of these together give shape to vibrant worship. The word voice is both a noun and verb. It is expansive, evoking ideas of both sound and conviction.

“The title Voices Together opens space for multiple dimensions of what we hope to offer in this new collection,” said Kauffman. “It honors the many voices in our churches and in our approaches to congregational song.”

Once the book had a title, senior designer Merrill Miller started on the book’s cover. Many colors were evaluated as possibilities, and purple was chosen as the final cover because of its worshipful connection.

The new Voices Together hymnal will be available in Fall 2020 in the following formats:

  • Pew edition
  • Projection edition
  • Large-print and keyboard edition
  • Musical accompaniment edition
  • Worship leaders edition
  • App

Gifts to the matching gift campaign “Voices Together, Giving Together” can be made at VoicesTogetherHymnal.org. Or mail checks to MennoMedia, P.O. Box 866, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22803 or to Mennonite Church Canada, 600 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3P 0M4.

—Staff release

New devotional book by Mennonite Girls Can Cook authors

Bread for the Journey launches in conjunction with theatrical production

BreadForTheJourneyHARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—In a gift-style volume, the women who contribute to the popularity of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog and cookbook series have authored devotionals, recipes, and family stories for a new devotional book.

Bread for the Journey: Meditations and Recipes to Nourish the Soul is a hardback collection of 90 meditations. (The new title is also available as an ebook.)

The meditations, all drawn from promises in Scripture, focus on helping readers strengthen their relationship with God by savoring everyday moments. Interspersed with the devotionals are dramatic family stories and favorite recipes, inviting users to extend their tables in hospitality and share God’s blessing with others.

Bread for the Journey will minister to every part of you: body, soul, and spirit. Every woman needs it!” writes Linda Dillow, author of Calm My Anxious Heart and Satisfy My Thirsty Soul.

Janice Dick, novelist, says, “Between the beautifully bound covers of Bread for the Journey lies a collection of life lessons, from everyday occurrences to miraculous deliverance: pictures of faith, forgiveness, and hope.”

The 10 authors include coordinator Lovella Schellenberg, along with (alphabetically) Ellen Bayles, Marg Bartel, Anneliese Friesen, Bev Klassen, Julie Klassen, Kathy McLellan, Betty Reimer, Charlotte, Penner, and Judy Wiebe.

This is the first book release from the Mennonite Girls since 2013, timed to coincide with the opening in the United States of comedy production by Blue Gate Musicals, Mennonite Girls Can Cook!

Many of the 10 authors plan to attend the Mennonite Girls Can Cook! comedy at both Blue Gate Theatre in Shipshewana, Indiana, and Ohio Star Theater in Walnut Creek, Ohio, this fall, and will sign copies of their new devotional and their two cookbooks, Mennonite Girls Can Cook (Herald Press, 2011) and Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations (Herald Press, 2013).

The producer of the comedy is Dan Posthuma, president and executive producer of Blue Gate Musicals; script writer is Martha Bolton, a former comedy writer for Bob Hope along with hundreds of other shows, including five hit Broadway-style musicals about Mennonites or Amish. The Mennonite Girls comedy is a one-act play and centers on a small-town cable TV cooking show, hosted by two Mennonite women, that attracts the attention of a Hollywood producer.

Lovella Schellenberg coordinates the blog and accompanying books, and lives in western British Columbia. Nine of the women live in Canada and one resides in the United States. They have appeared on numerous Canadian television segments, and donate all their author royalties to nourish children around the world.

Bread for the Journey is available for $16.99 USD from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 and www.MennoMedia.org, as well as other websites and local bookstores. The book is being published August 2, 2016.

MennoMedia Staff, July 27, 2016

High-resolution photos available.

 For more information from Herald Press:

Melodie Davis
News manager

A Magnifying Glass for the Future

I keep a very cheap child’s magnifying glass on my desk. It’s the remnant prop that I used in co-leading a workshop last May. It never quite got put away and now gets moved around. But sometimes I pick it up and hold it as I sit and think, or it will catch my eye during Skype meetings.


These past weeks I’ve tried to get out my own crystal ball and think more about the future of Christian formation in congregations.

Shine: Living in God’s Light is the curriculum produced by MennoMedia and Brethren Press for ages three through grade eight. It’s in its first quarter of use and we are already asking ourselves, What’s next?

Yes, you read that correctly: while Sunday school teachers are finishing off this first quarter of Shine, we are making plans for three years from now.

What follows is a smattering of tidbits that have piqued my attention on this topic in the last few weeks.

  • Thom Schultz, founder of Group Publishing, had a provocative post this week on the “Rise of the Dones.” This post—and the research it’s drawn from—make the case that “to an increasing degree, the church is losing its best” to no church at all. There is a growing legion of people, many of whom are boomers, who have devoted their lives to the church. They have been trustees, elders, lay leaders, Sunday school teachers, church clean-up day pros, and now legions of them are done with church. If this trend continues, what is the future of faith formation for any age in the church? Schultz’s post is based on the research in a forthcoming book called Church Refugees, by Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope (June 2015).
  • Some 76% of Protestant churches surveyed two years ago* reported that they are using technology more in the church and in Sunday school. Let’s face it, technology is changing the ways we learn. I heard at the grocery story yesterday that second graders are getting tablets in schools, for example. Publishers have jumped on this trend, but many of these efforts have not been the hoped-for successes. Mostly I hear stories of publishers marrying great technology with curriculum only to have abysmal sales. Is it because users want technology for free? We’re all too happy to download the free app but are we loathe to pay for the curriculum that goes along with it?
  • Congregations want the same outcomes from children’s Sunday school that they have wanted for the last 100 years: for children to choose to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When Mennonite congregations were surveyed two years ago* about their most desired outcomes for children’s Sunday school, this was the number one answer, followed by “understand God better.” And yet we know that the Sunday school books from that era don’t make sense for today.
    MennoMedia Survey Report (FINAL)
  • Christian educator John Roberto has written about the convergence of four forces that influence faith formation today. Given the four forces below, how do we at MennoMedia develop ways to help congregations inform, form, and transform faith (to use Roberto’s words) given this changing context?
    • Greater diversity in society and congregation
    • New Internet, communication and learning technologies
    • The emergence of connected, networked societies (moving from a grouped society to networked individualism)
    • Twenty-first century models of learning
  • Beth Barnett is exploring the paradigm shift in children’s ministry and asking what needs to change and what the future will look like. In this post she addresses how the Christian church has lost the practice and skills of being together—of how we have become consumers of church rather than contributors. Instead of harkening back to the days of yore, Barnett gives ideas for changing the script and offers new and refreshing ways to be the church together. I’m especially intrigued with her ideas about “who owns worship” and how we can prepare for all age worship that is different than simply offering a sermon for adults and a children’s story for children.

It’s an exciting time to be thinking about faith formation for congregations, and what the future will hold.

What are your predictions? What do you think the future of children’s faith formation should look like? Hopefully it will look as joyful as this child holding her copy of the Shine On story Bible!

Aleesia Alderfer with Shine On Children's Bible Storybook

Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich



* The survey referred to in this post was commissioned by the Protestant Church-owned Publishers Association, of which MennoMedia is a member. All Mennonite churches were asked to participate in this survey.