Music and worship leaders gather at Laurelville conference

News release

January 18, 2019

Music and worship leaders gather at Laurelville conference

Eagerness mounts for Voices Together hymnal coming in 2020

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa.—“I’m amazed at the exhilaration that comes from a room full of voices singing together,” said Brent Alderfer, a member of Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, Pa. and part of a group of 11 persons from that congregation who joined the annual Laurelville Music and Worship Leaders Retreat in western Pennsylvania in early January.

Anticipation and energy for the new Voices Together music and worship collection, which is nearing the end of the research, song collection, and testing phase, was in high gear at Laurelville. A video of singing, plus a photo gallery by photographer Kreg Ulery of participants enjoying the worship, music, and jam sessions can be found on the website for the hymnal at voicestogetherhymnal.org.

Over 150 participants gathered to test and explore songs in strong consideration for the upcoming hymnal. The retreat focused on sections of the book from “Creation” through “Reign of Christ.”

Attendees learned about the joys and challenges of shaping a worship book for the 21st century church and examined leadership skills to take back to home congregations. Emily Rittenhouse, from Blooming Glen, noted, “I got a better grasp of what an enormous undertaking this has been for the team, and how much that has pulled them away from other important things in their lives.” She added, “It is a sacrifice and a gift that will be interwoven into the songs we sing for decades to come.” Project director Bradley Kauffman estimates the team has reviewed at least 5000 pieces of music.

Michael Bishop, pastor of music, worship and pastoral care at Blooming Glen is enthusiastic about the new collection. “Voices Together will honor our past peoplehood, provide tools for living in these days, and draw us toward the work of God, who is always leading into a new creation,” he said. He notes that the team from their church included choir singers, song leaders, and those involved in leading worship. Robin Schilling, a leader from Blooming Glen added, “I was inspired with new ideas for the coming year.”

Tom Lehman, a member of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship in Durham, N.C. mentioned, “We were encouraged in considerable detail to sing songs in more than our own native language. The idea, of course, is inclusivity.” Alderfer affirmed, “Singing connects us to people around the world.”

Adam Tice, text editor for the hymnal, suggested that a suitable hymn collection should probably include at least a few hymns that the individual user does not appreciate, always mindful that any particular song may be someone else’s “heart” song which resonates deeply with them.

Mark Diller Harder, pastor of St. Jacobs Mennonite Church in Ontario said “I am filled with deep confidence and trust in this dedicated team. There is thoughtfulness and intentionality that balances continuity and change, all with an openness to the Spirit’s leading.”

Pre-orders and final pricing will be available this summer at the Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA gatherings in June and July, respectively.

 

Staff Release
Mennonite Media
More information: LeAnn Hamby at 540 908 3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

 

 

 

Twelve selected for song committee

June 16, 2016
News release

Twelve selected for song committee
Leadership team for song collection project also named

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ont.—Six women and six men from across North America have been chosen to serve on the committee for the new song collection for Mennonite churches planned for release in 2020.

The committee selections were announced by Bradley Kauffman, recently named project director for the collection, and Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia, the agency managing the project on behalf of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

The first meeting of the committee is planned for September 2016 in Harrisonburg.

The steering committee received more than 60 applications for the positions of project director, project assistant, music editor, text editor, worship resources editor, and committee member. “All of the applicants were well-qualified,” noted Gingerich. “We could have put together at least three excellent committees from the candidates.”

The editorial assignments include:

Adam Tice, text editor; Tice has written hymn texts for more than two hundred published songs and is a music composition graduate of Goshen College with a minor in Bible and religion. Originally from Pennsylvania, he also served a pastorate near Washington, D.C.

Benjamin Bergey, music editor; Bergey is a doctor of music arts (DMA) candidate at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) in orchestral conducting. He is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University majoring in church music. Originally from Franconia Conference, he is part of The Table, a Virginia Mennonite Conference congregation.

Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor; Johnson is currently a PhD student in liturgical studies at Notre Dame University (South Bend, Ind.). She formerly pastored in Ottawa and is a graduate of Conrad Grebel University College.

The remainder of the committee, alphabetically by last name, include:

  • Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Neustaedter Barg works for Mennonite Church Manitoba with wide experience in worship music and recording/videography. He is a member of Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.
  • Paul Dueck, Cartier, Manitoba; originally from Ontario, Dueck is a recently retired music educator and past graduate of Canadian Mennonite University who taught at Swift Current Bible School; he also pastored a congregation in Windsor.
  • Mike Erb, New Hamburg, Ontario; Erb is music director at Hillcrest Mennonite Church and is actively involved in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, Mennofolk, and a recording studio; Erb also served at Erb Street Mennonite Church.
  • Katie Graber, Columbus, Ohio; Graber is a graduate of Goshen College with a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin. Originally from Iowa, she teaches piano and music at two universities, and is part of Columbus (Ohio) Mennonite Church.
  • Emily Grimes, Salem, Oregon; Grimes grew up attending Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen and is a graduate of Goshen College in music education. She is the music director at Western Mennonite School in Oregon and attends Salem Mennonite Church.
  • Tom Harder, Wichita, Kansas; Harder is pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita with a DMA in guitar performance and an MDiv from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, or AMBS).
  • SaeJin Lee, Elkhart, Indiana; Lee is a graduate of Goshen College, and currently studying at AMBS with a minor in music in worship; she is part of the Hively Avenue congregation and worked with music at the 2015 Mennonite World Conference.
  • Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Winnipeg; Loepp Thiessen is originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, and just finished a third year of studies in piano and worship at Canadian Mennonite University; she is part of The Gathering Church.
  • Cynthia Neufeld Smith, Topeka, Kansas; Neufeld Smith has a BA from Bluffton University, an MDiv from AMBS, and a DMA, all focused on worship and music. She and her husband, Roger, are copastors of Southern Hills Mennonite Church in Kansas.

The steering committee responsible for the work of the music committee consists of Russ Eanes and Amy Gingerich from MennoMedia; Terry Shue and Nicole Francisco Bailey representing Mennonite Church USA; and Karen Martens Zimmerly and Irma Fast Dueck representing Mennonite Church Canada.

Music committee members were selected partially on the basis of their compatibility with the guiding principles for the project, including an Anabaptist missional lens; a forward-looking vision for music in congregational life; an ability to work collaboratively; and a history of engaging a diversity of musical idioms.

Bradley Kauffman added that the committee will be engaging additional consultants to help ensure that the collection addresses the needs of the twenty first century church.

MennoMedia Staff

For more information on this press release:
Melodie Davis
News manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org