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.

 

 

 

A Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ

October 23, 2018
News Release

A dispatch from the wreckage of U.S. Christianity
Mattson urges moving towards a Jesus-centered faith in The Great Reckoning

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Disillusioned with an American Christianity that loves political power, promises prosperity, and feeds on fear, author Stephen Mattson offers a clear-eyed yet tender critique of where the church has gone wrong in The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing like Christ (Herald Press, October 2018).

Tired of rationalizing how a loving God can be connected to unloving churches, institutions, and people, Mattson calls the church to critical self-examination through a “Jesus lens.” Instead of doomsaying or casting aspersions, Mattson offers hope for seekers looking to move away from the culture wars and toward a Jesus-centered faith.

“Similar to the Great Awakening, a series of revivals that permanently affected the Christian faith for years to come, I believe that we are living in what we could call the Great Reckoning: a time of soul-searching and truth-seeking and candid reflection on what we as Christians have allowed Christianity to become,” writes Mattson.

Mattson offers hope-filled examples of how Jesus followers can embody their faith in authentic ways.

“Decades from now, will the American Christianity of our day be known for a legacy of inspiration, or will its stance on racism, refugees, immigration policy, welfare, gender, and poverty leave a damning mark in history?” writes Mattson. “We must always be vigilant and aware of how Christianity is being co-opted.”

Stephen Mattson is a writer and activist whose work has been published in Relevant, Huffington Post, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, and a variety of other venues. Mattson graduated from Moody Bible Institute, served as a youth pastor, and now works at University of Northwestern–St. Paul. He and his wife and children live near Saint Paul, Minnesota, and attend Woodland Hills Church.

The Great Reckoning is available from Herald Press for $16.99 (paperback) and $13.99 (ebook) via 800 245 7894 and at the Herald Press webstore, www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877 846 1593), Parasource (800 263 2664), and elsewhere.

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

Beyond romance novels: Amish and Mennonite women tell their own stories in Homespun

July 31, 2018

Beyond romance novels:
Amish and Mennonite women tell their own stories in Homespun

HARRISONBURG, Va.— Ever wish you could visit with a group of Amish or Mennonite women over a cup of coffee? In the pages of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women In Their Own Words (August 2018), edited by Lorilee Craker. Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns. Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collected these personal writings about hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God.

“These essays enthused my soul, and I came away feeling as if I had just been to church,” writes Craker. “There is something wonderfully elemental and childlike about the devotion expressed here, devotion even amid doubt. These pieces drew me closer to the One who calls all his daughters ‘beloved.’”

Chapters include stories such as a woman who struggles with feeling inferior to her sister; a woman longing for a baby; and a hilarious tale of a woman who accidentally bought stretchy material to sew her husband’s pants. Each woman’s story unveils a hidden side of a community many are curious about. Writers include Linda Byler, Sherry Gore, Lovina Eicher, Lucinda Miller and dozens more.

Behind Amish romance novels and tourist spots and television shows stand real people, with longings and loves just like the rest of us. In Homespun, readers no longer have to wonder what life is like for Amish and Mennonite women. They can read real stories from real lives.

Editor Lorilee Craker is the author of thirteen books, including Money Secrets of the Amish; Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me; My Journey to Heaven with Marv Besteman; and the New York Times bestseller Through the Story with Lynne Spears. Connect with her at LorileeCraker.com.

Homespun is available from Herald Press for $15.99 (paperback) and $12.99 (ebook) at 800-245-7894 or at www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877-846-1593), Parasource (800-263-2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule an interview with Lorilee Craker, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540-908-3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.