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How Mennonites worship God: Timeline set for new song collection project
FOR RELEASE April 23, 2015
HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario. Some say Mennonites do not have a liturgy or a set form of worship but rather it is in singing together week after week where Mennonites express their Christian faith.
Meeting the week of April 13 in Minneapolis, representatives from MennoMedia, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA laid the foundation for a new Mennonite song collection that is anticipated to be released in 2020.
The new song collection will be more than a printed hymnal, and will certainly include an electronic version as well as other supporting products. Full feasibility studies exploring the range of potential products for the collection are underway.
“We are eager to see this new song collection serve and nurture the next generation of Anabaptist Mennonite believers—a generation characterized by broad diversity, incredible creativity, and inspiring passion for Gods mission,” notes Dave Bergen, executive minister, Christian formation and chief administrative officer for Mennonite Church Canada.
Terry Shue, director of leadership development for Mennonite Church USA, adds, “As each generation builds on the faith and practices of those who came before us, the selections in this new song collection will both reflect what has been and shape our common identity as followers of Jesus.”
The project is expected to take about five years, with a final printed hymnal slated to be available in the summer of 2020.
While MennoMedia will publish the new song collection, it will do so in close partnership with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. A steering committee of six members (two each representing MennoMedia, MC Canada, and MC USA) will provide oversight to the ongoing project.
The three parties first started exploring the need for a new hymnal in spring 2008, when they surveyed worship and music leaders in Mennonite congregations. That work continued in summer 2011, when The Heart of Mennonite Worship was released as a jointly produced study guide inviting Mennonite congregations to think more deeply about worship. As one part of that study, congregations were asked to submit lists of the songs they sang each week through an online survey.
In late 2014, the Joint Executive Committee of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA gave the green light to the song collection project with the understanding that while MennoMedia would be the publisher and project leader, work should be done in close partnership with the denominations.
We have a tremendous amount of data from congregations in the 2008 and 2011 surveys about the songs they sing each week and how they access music, said Russ Eanes, publisher at MennoMedia. Congregational responses show that its time to begin this project, as many congregations are noting wear and tear on their existing hymnals.
Staff and committees
MennoMedia plans to hire a full-time project director and a part-time project assistant for the duration of the project.
In addition, a 10 to 12 member hymnal committee will be appointed to work closely with the project staff. This committee will solicit and review music and texts, paying close attention to singability, theology, and clarity. Three members of the committee will be asked to serve in part-time capacities as music editor, text editor, and worship resources editor, respectively. All the other positions will be filled by volunteers.
Those interested in being part of the hymnal project committee will be able to apply for the 10 to 12 positions in early 2016. Applications will be available later in 2015 atwww.MennoMedia.org. Application reviews will start in January 2016.
Anyone who is an active member of a Mennonite Church Canada or Mennonite Church USA congregation may apply to be on the hymnal committee. Those applying will be asked to make a three-year commitment to the project. In addition to a short application, those applying to be on the hymnal committee must provide three references, including one pastoral reference. All applications will be reviewed by the six-member steering committee and the project director.
The project committees first meeting will likely be in mid-2016. At the first meeting the hymnal committee and editor will craft a statement of theological principles and a statement of purpose that will guide their work. The hymnal committee will meet for four to six days, up to four times a year, for up to three years.
The new song collection will include a one-year period during which time anyone can make recommendations about what songs or texts should be included. An online form will be created for the submission process, and people will be invited to recommend their favorite songs as well as new music or texts.
Staff anticipate that the new song collection will be released in 2020. This new volume will replace Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992), which succeeded The Mennonite Hymnal (1969).
Fundraising work for the project has already started; MennoMedia plans to raise over $400,000 to produce this song collection.
MennoMedia plans to release regular news about the project. To receive this news, sign up at HymnalInfo@MennoMedia.org. Names for consideration for the hymnal committee are welcome and should also be submitted to this same email address.
SONG COLLECTION TIMELINE
|Spring 2015||Project commences with first structural meeting; fundraising commences|
|January 2016||Project editor and project assistant hired|
|Spring 2016||Hymnal committee of 10 to 12 appointed|
|Summer 2016||First meeting of the hymnal committee|
|Summer 2016||Song and text submission process opens|
|Spring 2017||Song and text submission process ends|
|Spring 2019||Committee work ends|
|Summer 2020||New hymnal and other products are released|
For more information on the press release:
Foresighted leadership of Orie O. Miller described in new book
Biography by historian John E. Sharp to be published May 5
April 23, 2015
JOINT RELEASE BY MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE AND MENNOMEDIA
AKRON, Pa., HARRISONBURG, Va., KITCHENER, Ont., and WINNIPEG, Man. A new biography shines fresh light on Orie O. Miller, counted among the founders of Mennonite Central Committee, who was also instrumental in setting up the Civilian Public Service program with the U.S. government during World War II.
My Calling to Fulfill: The Orie O. Miller Story will be released by Herald Press May 5. Recognizing and remembering the influence of historical figures helps shape future generations, according to the books author, historian John E. Sharp.
Miller not only helped form organizations, but shaped the identity of Mennonites throughout the 20th century. As Robert S. Kreider, former president of Bluffton University, said, “Orie Miller may be the most remarkable Mennonite in our generation, perhaps of our century.”
In the book, Sharp describes Miller’s importance in the Mennonite community, outlining the seen and unseen legacy Miller left behind. It is a comprehensive look at Miller’s life, from his birth in 1892 and childhood spent in Middlebury, Indiana, to his death in Lititz, Pennsylvania, in 1977. According to Sharp and many others he cites, Miller’s work was formative during a shift from being a rurally isolated church to one that became more globally aware and engaged.
In 1919, Miller served as a relief worker in Lebanon and Syria, and later in areas devastated by Armenian slaughter and ethnic cleansing. In 1920, he traveled to Russia to launch an MCC relief unit there, as MCC was still in its formation stages. Soon his commitment to mission work in the Anabaptist context played out in additional arenas, including finance and administration.
Miller continued to influence countless aspects of Mennonite development, from engagement with mental health institutions and economics (Mennonite Economic Development Associates, or MEDA) to peacemaking and education (Mennonite Education Association, or MEA). He served as a significant board member for many Mennonite agencies, perhaps most notably his service at Mennonite Central Committee, where he worked in administrative roles for 35 years.
Peter H. Rempel, a former staff member of Mennonite Central Committee, elaborates: As a leader in multiple Mennonite causes, Orie Miller wore the plain coat prescribed by his church but with the necktie appropriate to his business approach. Rempel believes Millers life integrated discipleship and vocation in service to the church and the world.
J Ron Byler, executive director of MCC U.S., and Don Peters, executive director of MCC Canada agree that Orie Miller’s work was fundamental to the solid foundation of today’s organization that now has program in more than 60 countries. According to their combined comment inside the books front cover, Orie Miller’s tireless and inspiring leadership form the cornerstone of MCC’s ongoing ministry in the name of Christ. We trust he would view todays MCC as a worthy legacy of his vision and wisdom.
Jewel Showalter, writer and longtime worker with Eastern Mennonite Missions, said, “In a world where loyalties to jobs, churches, and spouses seem shallow and ephemeral, it was refreshing to learn of Miller’s deep and abiding loyalty to the Mennonite church. I’m glad his hoped-for pulpit became a plane that has carried North American Mennonites around the world.”
During a time of world turmoil and world wars, and at the brink of the era of globalization, Miller stood out as a person who, through imaginative service, shaped who Mennonites were to become.
Sharp’s keen eye for finding fascinating narratives and entertaining stories in history elevates Miller’s story beyond the dusty past. Sharp is history instructor at Hesston College and served as director of the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee and Archives in Goshen, Indiana, for many years. James Juhnke, professor emeritus of history at Bethel College, names Sharp one of the preeminent storytellers among Mennonites today.
My Calling to Fulfill: The Orie O. Miller Story is available for $29.99 USD and $34.49 CAD from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or www.mennomedia.org, as well as at bookstores.
For more on Orie O Miller, visit Sharp’s blog on the biography project:oriomiller.blogspot.com
High res photo available here.
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