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.

 

 

 

Who is my neighbor? MennoMedia 2019 vacation Bible school curriculum helps children love others

News release

December 13, 2018

Who is my neighbor?
MennoMedia 2019 vacation Bible school curriculum helps children love others

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Neighbors are more than people who live next door. Children will expand their ideas about neighbors and how to love others in the new vacation Bible school curriculum from MennoMedia, Who Is My Neighbor? Learning to Love like Jesus, available now for the summer of 2019.

Through five carefully selected Bible stories, Who Is My Neighbor? tells the story of Jesus teaching people the importance of loving God and each other; the parable of the good Samaritan; Isaac and Rebekah’s skirmish over wells; guests invited to a special banquet who refuse to attend; and the early disciples sharing with one another.

Who Is My Neighbor? can help churches address changing communities in positive ways while teaching children to follow the way of Jesus in all of life. Editor Mary Ann Weber notes that the theme “gets to the heart of the fact that we are to care for everyone, that everyone is our neighbor. The stories and activities offer concrete ways we can show care and concern to anyone.”

Written by various writers, the Bible story curriculum becomes real through worship, music, drama, crafts, games, and other activities. Two student books for children of different ages are offered, along with promotional material, a resource CD, a Bible memory verses poster, and participation certificates.

Who Is My Neighbor? may be ordered as an all-in-one starter kit that includes everything needed for planning and preparing an effective VBS program. Items are also sold separately. More information is at www.MennoMedia.org/vbs.

 

 

—Staff release

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

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