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

Paperback of Reunion releases along with study guide and online videos

May 15, 2018

Paperback of Reunion releases along with study guide and online videos

HARRISONBURG, Va., and HAMILTON, Ont.— In Reunion: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints, and Sinners, author Bruxy Cavey urges Christian readers to reexamine the gospel they thought they knew, and non-Christian readers to consider the message of Jesus for the first time.

Now releasing in paperback, Reunion demonstrates “evident goodwill, passion, and intriguing arguments” and uses “accessible prose laced with catchy subtitles, humor, and a touch of irreverence,” according to Publishers Weekly. Written for longtime Christians and skeptics alike, Reunion gives readers glimpses of a God who looks like Jesus and who replaces religion with himself.

In addition to the paperback edition of Reunion, a study guide has been released simultaneously. The eight-session guide will help church groups, book clubs, and groups of friends learn the real message of Jesus and how to share it with others. With discussion questions, Scriptures, and links to video content by Cavey, the Reunion study guide helps readers engage more deeply with the content of the book. The study guide includes a “study buddy” option, in which participants can team up with someone outside the group to talk about the ideas in the book.

Hardback, paperback, and white study guide.

In Reunion, Cavey guides readers with humor and warmth into investigations of the big Christian words—sin, salvation, incarnation, religion—and upends traditional definitions with surprising insights. Articulating the gospel in one, three, and thirty words, Cavey offers a concise and winsome summary of what he calls the most “piety-smashing news” ever. “The message and mission of Jesus is a universal rebuke to all religion, of his day and every day, including and especially the Christian religion,” Cavey writes.

Reunion and the study guide are designed for readers who have had negative experiences with the church, as well as for those who want to dive more deeply into the fullness of God’s love.

Cavey is the senior pastor of The Meeting House, a multisite Anabaptist congregation in eastern Ontario where thousands of people connect with God and each other through Sunday services, online interaction, and a widespread house church network. Cavey also wrote the bestselling The End of Religion. He and his wife, Nina, reside in Hamilton, Ontario, and have three daughters. Find him at Bruxy.com or TheMeetingHouse.com.

The study guide and new paperback version of Reunion sell for $9.99 and $16.99, respectively. The Reunion hardback is still available for $21.99 and is also available as an ebook for $13.99.

Contact LeAnn Hamby to arrange an interview with the author at Herald Press (540-908‑3941) or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

What can saints and mystics teach us about faith, ourselves, and life in community?

April 17, 2018

What can saints and mystics teach us about faith, ourselves, and life in community?

HARRISONBURG, Va.— With untested ideals and a thirst for adventure, Christiana Peterson and her family moved to an intentional Christian farming community, Plow Creek, in the rural Midwest. It sounded like a simple and faithful way to follow Jesus, not to mention a great place to raise kids.

In Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints, Peterson shares her discovery that community life is never really simple. She needs resources beyond her own to weather the anxiety and exhaustion of trying to save a dying farm and a floundering congregation.

Peterson turns to Christian mystics like Francis of Assisi, Simone Weil, and Dorothy Day to find sustenance for the everyday struggles and unique hardships of community life. With a contemplative’s spirit and poet’s eye, Peterson leads readers into an encounter with the God of the sometimes “wild” mystics and “weird misfits.” Along the way, she helps readers discover new perspectives on simplicity, hospitality, contemplation, church, and death.

Jon M. Sweeney, author of more than two dozen books and a scholar of Francis of Assisi, wrote the foreword, describing Mystics as “achingly beautiful … a long love letter to holiness. The mystics with whom Peterson engages are ones who wanted so much to be holy, as Jesus asked us all to be, and did it in ordinary and extraordinary ways.”

Endorsers include Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, who writes, “I opened this fine book out of curiosity, and found it so well written and so filled with gems, that I knew I had to pass on the good news! Read [it] even if you think you don’t have time.” D. L. Mayfield, author of Assimilate or Go Home, calls it “the perfect blend of idealism tinged with mortality, of contemplation marred by depression.”

Christiana N. Peterson is a regular contributor to Good Letters, Image Journal blog, Christianity Today Women, Off the Page, and Art House America. Peterson now lives with her husband and their four children in Ohio. She has a masters in theology and a PhD in creative writing from St. Andrews University in Scotland. Find more of her writing and connect with her at Christiananpeterson.com.

Mystics and Misfits is available from Herald Press for $16.99 (paperback) and $13.99 (ebook). Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule an interview with Christiana Peterson, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.