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 song collection project director announced

BradleyKauffmanHeadshot

Bradley Kauffman, 2016

May 5, 2016
News release

New song collection project director announced

Bradley Kauffman brings passion for Anabaptist theology, music, and worship

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ont.—Bradley Kauffman of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been named project director for the new song collection for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. The print version is slated for release in 2020. He will perform work on a contract basis before assuming a full-time staff position on July 5.

Kauffman earned a bachelor of arts in music education at Goshen College in 1996 and completed a master of arts in choral conducting at the University of Iowa in 2002.

“Bradley’s passion for the church and his keen interest in the formative role of music in our collective worship made him a very good fit for this position,” said Terry Shue, director of leadership development for Mennonite Church USA and a member of the song collection steering committee.

Kauffman has taught music in three Mennonite schools. From 2007 to 2015, he was a choral and instrumental music instructor at Hesston (Kan.) College. From 2005 to 2007, he directed instrumental music at Bethany Christian Schools, Goshen, Ind. At Iowa Mennonite School in Kalona, Iowa, he was vocal and instrumental music instructor from 1997–2005.

He has led Music Week at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Pennsylvania two years, and across the church has been active in congregational musical life including hymn leading, guitar playing, serving as worship committee member and conducting church choirs. He has held roles in professional and community choirs singing and conducting. He studied under Dr. Timothy Stalter at the University of Iowa and also composer/conductor Alice Parker. At Goshen, he studied conducting and church music with Doyle Preheim. Kauffman also has experience arranging, composing, and writing, and plays guitar and hand drums.

“My faith and professional life are each deeply formed by Mennonite hymnody,” Kauffman reflected regarding his desire to direct the project. He used Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992) as a textbook in conducting classes at Hesston College and noted it has served the denomination well. “Yet I resonate with the movement to renew and expand the denominational canon for the twenty-first century church,” he stated.

The project director is responsible for managing all aspects of the project, and will oversee a part-time project assistant, various committees, and freelance editors and designers. Kauffman will be responsible to a six-member steering committee: two from MennoMedia, Russ Eanes and Amy Gingerich; two from Mennonite Church USA, Terry Shue and Nicole Francisco Bailey; and two from Mennonite Church Canada, Karen Martens Zimmerly and Irma Fast Dueck.

Karen Martens Zimmerly, executive minister for formation and pastoral leadership for Mennonite Church Canada noted, “Through his previous employment and volunteer work, Bradley is well connected to many faith communities across Mennonite Church USA. I look forward to Bradley’s visits to Canada so that he becomes familiar with the rich diversity of congregations and area churches across Mennonite Church Canada.”

Kauffman recalls very early memories of experiencing the impact of Mennonite congregational singing. “I remember feeling enveloped in warmth, love, and interconnectedness. I have been surrounded by Anabaptist theology, music, and worship my whole life,” he remembers. This impact deepened as Kauffman grew in his spiritual journey and life experiences.

Kauffman said he brings “passion for preserving and expanding a denominational canon in ways that are theologically and artistically nourishing. I have done a lot of thinking, leading, and writing around the topic, and am energized by the prospect of leading this incredible project.”

Shue commented, “This is an opportunity to build upon the musical legacy that has long been a part of the Mennonite Church, while giving musical voice and forward leaning into the Church God is calling us to become.”

MennoMedia Executive Director Russ Eanes was especially happy with the large number of applications the steering committee received for staff and committee work, especially from younger adults. “It has been overwhelming. It shows the deep interest and energy that this project has for the whole church and we are very pleased about the experience and credibility that Bradley will bring to lead it.”

Most recently Kauffman has worked as full time stay-at-home parent; his wife, Renee Kanagy, serves as pastor of Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship; he will work from their home in Cincinnati.

MennoMedia Staff

High resolution photos available.
For more information on this press release:

Melodie Davis
News manager
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

 

Don’t Fence Me In: Broadening our Definition of Theology

It’s my sense that the number of those who are interested in Anabaptism is on the rise. Last week I was with Marty Troyer at some meetings. Marty is pastor at Houston Mennonite Church: The Church of the Sermon on the Mount and his blog, The Peace Pastor, hosted by the Houston Chronicle, has a following in the thousands.

Marty said that he used to get an average of 2 calls per month from people interested in Anabaptism. Now he’s up to about 15 calls per month. These are people who want to meet for coffee or lunch and have conversations about what it means to be Anabaptist or Mennonite. He used to be able to say yes to all those requests. That’s not the case anymore, simply because of volume.

If you follow bloggers interested in and engaging topics related to Anabaptism, you might notice what I have: these bloggers are primarily Caucasian, male, and between the ages of 25 and 40. (Of course they aren’t all in this demographic but there does seem to be a concentration within this group.) I know from conversations with others that they have noticed this trend as well.

A few weeks ago on the MennoNerds Facebook page there was some conversation around publishing and “bestselling” theologians. Who are the “bestselling” women publishing Anabaptist theology, they asked?

Four books published by Herald Press or MennoMedia (or its predecessors) immediately come to mind.

People who don’t even talk about theology all that often know these books—and the theology within. And yet when people talk about bestselling theology titles, I doubt these four immediately came to your mind. They aren’t cataloged by booksellers under “systematic theology” or “Christian ethics” or “peacemaking.” And yet each of these books—which I label under the umbrella of practical theology—involve all those fields.

Why is that? Don’t we think about the links between food and faith, or simple living and faith? Don’t we sing our faith?

As Mennonites we practice our theology on the go, in the midst of daily life. So cookbooks, hymnals, Sunday school curricula, and a bevy of other resources shape our theological understandings much more than reading systematic theologians. (Thanks to Marlene Kropf for framing it this way for me in an email last week.)

It’s not like the theology in these books is designed to go unnoticed. Quite the contrary! It’s designed to be practiced on the go, in the midst of life.

Last week Hannah Heinzekehr wrote in her blog, The Femonite:

    Theology is about telling stories that help us to make sense of God … the stories we tell need to take into account the breadth and depth and height and width of the diversity in our midst.

Each of these books helps us move beyond defining theology narrowly, and helps us make sense of God.

The More-with-Less Cookbook is a collection of recipes and suggestions on how to enjoy more while consuming less of the world’s resources (Herald Press, 1976); Living More with Less, is a collection of tips and testimonies of people searching for ways to simplify their lives. Living More-with-Less was published by Herald Press in 1980, shortly after Doris Janzen Longacre’s death, at age 39, on November 10, 1979. (For more on Doris Janzen Longacre, go here.)

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Together both books have sold close to 1 million copies. They are, by far, our bestselling books at Herald Press.

And lest you think these are just a “cookbook” and a “book of tips,” I have encountered many people across the church (including my boss and our publisher, Russ Eanes), who claim to have found the Mennonite Church because of one of these two prophetic books. The theology within should not be taken for granted.

In the book Singing: A Mennonite Voice, authors Marlene Kropf and Ken Nafziger asked people, “What would you do if someone decided that from here on out there would be no more singing in worship?” Some answers included:

  • “It would rob us of our church. … Singing is the glue that holds worship together.”
  • “I get so weary of words. The reason I go to church is to sing.”
  • “I’d dry up. It would feel like something is being squeezed out of me.”

Mennonites are known for singing their theology—whether in four parts to a hymn or with drums to an African rhythm. Much of the way we articulate our faith through music has been shaped by the contributions of two women: Mary Oyer and Rebecca Slough.

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Mary Oyer was executive secretary of the Joint Hymnal Committee that put together Mennonite Hymnal (1969). She was the only woman on the committee, and her influence on Mennonite theology should not be overlooked. Nurturing the Spirit Through Song is a book and DVD that tells about Mary’s life and influence.

When it came time to develop a Hymnal: A Worship Book (1992), Mary Oyer was again involved. This time she chaired the hymnal project for four years, and then served as project manager. Much of the way Mennonites practiced their theology through song in the last half of the 20th century and have continued to do so today goes back to Mary Oyer’s influence. Mary remains a changemaker and trailblazer for women doing theology through song.

Rebecca Slough was the managing editor of Hymnal: A Worship Book. Rebecca edited this book as she wrapped up her own PhD studies and as she navigated a variety of hymnal committees and three denominations (Mennonite Church, General Conference Mennonite Church, and Church of the Brethren). It was no easy task, to be sure.

Hymnal: A Worship Book has sold some 200,000 copies, certainly qualifying it as a bestseller and as a book that has shaped Mennonite theology these past twenty-one years.

What do you think? Do you agree with me that these are perhaps some of the most important Anabaptist theological texts of the 20th century? And what women would you add to the list of bestselling authors doing Anabaptist theology?

Amy Gingerich

Amy Gingerich
Editorial Director

P.S. Be sure to check out the “All you need is love” conference honoring the diversity of women’s voices in theology this next February. Registration opened last week!