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

Love Undocumented addresses heated immigration issues in personal way

January 16, 2018

Love Undocumented addresses heated immigration issues in personal way

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Sarah Quezada’s own experiences with immigration, God’s grace, and love bring fresh air to a pressing topic in her debut book, Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World (Herald Press, January 16, 2018).

The United States is home to approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants, a large number of whom have resided in the States for at least a decade. In her touching, personal account, Quezada outlines the profound ways in which her life has been altered by the immigration process, immigrants, and, especially, the undocumented immigrant who became her husband.

With a focus on the way Jesus interacted with strangers, Quezada invites readers to evaluate individuals’ and churches’ role in welcoming immigrants in their communities.

From delightful stories of getting to know her now-husband, Billy, to agonizing reflections on the couple’s uphill struggles with the immigration process, readers will recognize the power of Christ in her narrative and in looking at the highly polarized sides of the immigration debate.

Sarah Quezada was raised in the southern United States; at age 19 she left home to pursue work in justice, service, and racial reconciliation efforts. Her husband, Billy, emigrated from Guatemala, and had an expired visa when the two met and later married. Quezada’s writing has been featured online at Christianity Today, Sojourners, Relevant, ChurchLeaders.com, and numerous other sites.

Shannan Martin, author of Falling Free, says of Love Undocumented, “At a time when division reigns, Sarah Quezada offers an invitation to walk in solidarity and kinship with our immigrant neighbor.” Publishers Weekly calls the book a “probing and personal debut.”

Connect with the author at her website, www.sarahquezada.com. Love Undocumented 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.

For more information, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

—From press release by Karen Campbell Media. High res photos are available.

What people wonder about Mennonites: Top 20 questions asked in 2017 at Third Way

News release

December 28, 2017

What people wonder about Mennonites: Top 20 questions asked in 2017 at Third Way

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Suppose your job is to answer impossibly complex questions, sometimes dealing with theology and even eternal destiny. How do you respond?

This was the volunteer task of Erwin and Angela Rempel, now retired mission workers

Angela and Erwin Rempel also volunteer on the annual Everence “Day of Generosity” for MennoMedia.

who served two Mennonite agencies in the U.S. and abroad. They are now “retiring” a second time, this time from answering the myriad questions sent to Third Way website. Third Way is dedicated to conveying information about Mennonites and related Anabaptist groups to the general public.

Since 2012, the Rempels responded personally to questions sent to the website. Third Way was originally launched in 1998 and is curated by staff of MennoMedia as part of its publishing platform on behalf of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Dennis Kuhns and Edith Shenk Kuhns.

Dennis Kuhns, a retired pastor in Harrisonburg, will fill the position vacated by the Rempels as of January 1. He will generally answer questions in keeping with Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective and guide questioners to find answers at Third Way and elsewhere as needed.

A recent story came from Third Way’s outreach:

“I am so happy that I found the courage to visit the Chicago Community Mennonite Church across the street in my neighborhood here on the West Side of Chicago. I first attended the church in the late spring/early summer of 2017. I was a bit apprehensive at first, as I am an African-American and the Mennonite community that I worship with is about 99 percent white. However, after relaxing myself and keeping an open mind, I found it easy to converse with other parishioners and visitors at the church. Pastor Alison and Rev. Celeste immediately welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. They are both to be commended as great women of God. I am STRONGLY considering becoming a member of the church in 2018. Thank you and God bless you.”

Here in no particular order, are 2017’s top 20 questions as determined by staff, asked at Third Way (with minor edits for spelling and grammar) and names withheld.

DRIVE AUTOS? Do Mennonites drive cars?

CHRISTIAN TRUTHS? What are the truths in the Christian faith?

CLOTHING, SMOKING, AND DRIVING. How do Mennonites and Amish differ in their clothing? How come I see some smoking but they cannot drive? Isn’t smoking considered of the world?

WHAT PILLARS? What are a set of rules Mennonites have? Commandments, pillars, moral code?

WWJD? How does Jesus want me to live my life?

UTOPIAN MENNOS? I am doing a research project in school about Utopian Society and I decided to do it on your community. I was wondering if there was anything that you would like to tell me in depth about your community.

FAMILY MEMBER SHUNNING. Why do Amish practice shunning instead of showing Christ’s love for all? Especially when it’s a family member?

DOCTRINES? Is your doctrine the same as the Baptists? Are you Calvinist?

ALDOUS HUXLEY ANYONE? How is your religion similar to the book Brave New World?

KEY TEACHINGS? What are the key teachings of Jesus on the Church?

MULTIPLE PARTNERS? After spending a good amount of time with my Mennonite friend, she has told me that herself and a lot of 25-35-year-old Mennonites don’t marry because it is more fun to have multiple partners, your wealth is yours, plus you are really liberated. It seems things are really changing.

JOIN MENNONITES? We would really like to join the Mennonites. My fiancé and I have been together for six years and will be married. We have both been married before and I know that is looked down on in the community. We have five children and really want to raise them for God. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to be part of the community.

BORN IN SIN? I have often heard at church and from many who call themselves Christians that we are “born in sin” because of Adam and Eve, yet I have never found anything in the Bible that says so. Not a word. What does your church teach about that and what Bible verses support that view?

DID JESUS DIE WILLINGLY? How can we say that Jesus died for our sins? He was persecuted because of our sinful nature. He didn’t suicide. Right? So how can we say that Jesus willingly died on the cross? He says that he was persecuted because he always stood with the right. So how [was] he sacrificed for our sins? What’s the purpose of this belief? What are we expected to believe about Jesus?

A JEANS GUY. Is there a “dress code” for Sunday services? I’m thinking of attending Sunday service at the [name deleted] location, however I don’t really have church clothes. It’s more of shirt and jeans thing in my life at this time.

SABBATH IN TASMANIA? What day is the Sabbath and do you have churches in Tasmania?

SATURDAY WORSHIP? Why don’t you worship on Saturday as indicated in the ten commandments?

STILL HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL? My friend and I are strong believers in Mennonite living style and way of life. We live by their beliefs already; we are wondering how we fully live the style of a Mennonite? We are 14 and are wondering where we would live and if we would go to school still?

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? Have Mennonites done research on domestic violence in the U.S.?

DIE AN ATHEIST? If everything happens as according to God’s plan, and I die as an atheist as according to his plan, why do I go to hell?

In addition to much historical and theological information on Mennonites at Third Way, numerous free weekly or monthly email subscriptions are available at thirdway.com/subscriptions: Media Matters, Living Simply, Wider View, Daily Scripture and Stories of Peace. Third Way sponsors include Mennonite Mission Network, Everence, Abundance (Canada), and Goodville Mutual.

The Rempels have written a combined memoir of their lifetime mission work, titled Unexpected Invitations: Surprises, Adventures, and Opportunities in Mennonite Ministry, available here: http://unexpectedinvitations.com/

—Staff release

Melodie Davis, News manager

 

MennoMedia

540-574-4874

melodied@mennomedia.org