Worship and Song Collection Project Fund-raising Update by Steve Carpenter

MennoMedia, on behalf of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, is working to create a new Mennonite hymnal by 2020. I have been tasked with raising more than $600,000 to pay for the work of a 13-person hymnal committee, a full-time project director, a half-time administrative assistant and other support staff and services. We’re off to a good start.

Bradley Kauffman began work as the Project Director in July 2016 and later that summer 13 others were appointed to serve with him on the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee.

This committee includes persons from both Canada and the US.

The committee has met several times, most recently at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan, in early September. (Read a recent report on their work here.) The committee has enjoyed frequent contact and mentorship from Mary Oyer, Rebecca Slough, Kenneth Nafziger, Marilyn Houser Hamm, Marlene Kropf and other veterans of previous hymnal projects beyond the Mennonite Church.

As I meet with individuals, inviting them to support this endeavor financially, I am sometimes asked “Why do we need a new hymnal?” In short, refreshing a worship and song collection once a generation is one of the cycles of a forward-looking church. Hymnals are of a generational moment. They mark a particular threshold showing where the church has been and where the spirit of God may be leading. They hold comfort and nostalgia while leaning earnestly to challenge and prophetic action. As the urgencies of church life and identity shift from generation to generation, worship rhythms respond to this Spirit-movement.

The Mennonite Hymnal (red) was published in 1969.

 

 

 

 

The blue Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB) was released in 1992.

That is a span of 23 years between the red and blue hymnals, both of which were developed before the digital age. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hymnal: A Worship Book and it will be another three years until a new hymnal is available. A new generation of spirit-led, prophetic church music has been written in the last quarter century. The way the church uses music is also changing. Available electronic formats will help the new collection meet the needs of twenty-first century worshipers. Many of our faith communities are expressing eager anticipation of this forthcoming resource.

The new hymnal will retain durable material from HWB and the two supplements, Sing the Journey (2005) and Sing the Story (2007), while introducing new music and worship resources geared for the 21st century church.

Those who give a gift of at least $500 toward this project, between now and 2019, will have 40 characters (including spaces) in the back of the hymnal to honor a loved one, include a snippet from a hymn or a favorite verse of Scripture. Persons may also include their own names or give anonymously. To date we have raised nearly $370,000 in gifts and faith promises or 61% of the $606,000 goal. Larger gifts entitle the giver to 80 characters. To learn more about giving to support this important project, visit HymnalProject606.com or email me at SteveC@mennomedia.org.

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, going by the name Resonate Team, has invited congregations to hold a Great Day of Singing on Sunday October 22. Click here to view downloadable music and worship resources available for your congregation to plan worship for that day.

Thank you for your interest in this project. The Mennonite church has a rich tradition of robust congregational singing. A gift to Project 606 will help offer this legacy to the next generation.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations

Steve Carpenter
Director of Development and Church Relations.

Project 606 has a new website

We at MennoMedia recently launched a website to share information and allow individuals to contribute to the creation of a new song collection which we are developing for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. The site is http://hymnalproject606.com/

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Project 606 is the name of the fundraising aspect of the development phase of the song collection. It was so named in recognition of the significance of the anthem version of the traditional “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” prayer, affectionately known as “606” from its designation in the red 1969 Mennonite Hymnal.

Mennonite Hymnal

The 13-person hymnal committee, whose work the funds being raised is underwriting, is comprised of five Canadians and eight U.S. citizens and will met for the first time on September 22-25 in Harrisonburg, Va.

About hymn “606,” Russ Eanes, MennoMedia’s Executive Director notes he has been asked more than once, “When you do a new hymnal, can you put ‘606’ back it its place?” The goal for Project 606 is to raise $606,000 to pay for the Project Director’s salary, the travel, lodging and meal expenses for the 13 person hymnal committee over three years, administrative and other staff support to develop a new hymnal for the next generation of Mennonites. We need to raise these funds because MennoMedia is a small publisher without the financial reserves needed to undertake such a big project ahead of sales.

Some have asked “Do we really need another hymnal?” to which I reply, it has been 24 years since Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB) was released, a longer gap than the 23 years between the red Mennonite Hymnal (1969) and HWB (1992).

Hymnal A Worship Book

Churches have been asking whether they should replace their worn hymnals or wait for the next one. MC USA and Mennonite Church Canada have asked MennoMedia to produce a new hymnal. While at Mennonite World Conference in August, 2015 I noticed 60% of the music in the songbook was not in HWB, Sing the Story or Sing the Journey. These new songs greatly enhanced the corporate worship at MWC. The church is asking for a new song collection. We owe it to our faith communities to give them the best music resources available.

The “606” song, in a cappella form, continues to inspire, with stories abounding. On May 2, 2015, Garrison Keillor hosted his Prairie Home Companion radio program live from Goshen College. The show, which is broadcast nationally to an audience of four million, opened with the thousand-member, mostly-Mennonite, audience’s a cappella rendition of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” When the singing ended, Keillor said, “Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. You’re stunning me.”

In March of 2016, Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg, Va sponsored a concert of the British a cappella music group Voces8. Their mix of sacred and pop music entertains audiences all over the world. Toward the end, as is customary, the again mostly-Mennonite audience sang a cappella for Voces 8. This year the EMHS crowd sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” As Eanes related, Voces 8 listened on stage in quiet appreciation. When the echoes of the final “Amen” receded, Voces 8 gave the crowd a loud ovation.

Eastern_Mennonite_School_Logo

One member of the group, Ollie, was in tears. He later explained, “Sorry I was blubbering. Last year I was in a serious car accident, totaling my car. Amazingly, I wasn’t injured, but I blacked out. While I was unconscious, I had a strange sense of being taken care of in a special way. I felt held and looked after. It had a profound impact on me.” The audience’s singing of “606” again moved him, reminding him of God’s care.

Mennonites sometimes take beautiful singing for granted. “But we should never forget what a gift it is and that this gift is so readily obvious to outsiders,” reminds Eanes.

To date more than $235,000 has been given or promised representing nearly 40 percent of the goal. The www.HymnalProject606.com website accepts credit cards; those who give as little as $500 over the next 3 years can be named, or honor a loved one, with a line in the back of the hymnal. In addition to donations, people can recommend favorite songs for inclusion in the new hymnal. The committee has promised to consider each submission.

My wife and her five siblings have given a gift to honor their parents with a line in the back of the hymnal saying: Honoring our parents Russell & Gladys Alderfer, “Oh for a 1,000 tongues to sing.”

I encourage to honor your loved ones with a line in the new hymnal. Those in the U.S. can fill out the paperwork online, and both U.S. and Canadians can give using a credit card. Click here to visit the website HymnalProject606.com

I will personally contact those Canadians who give through Mennonite Church Canada’s website – click here – to record their dedications for the back of the hymnal.

MC Canada DoveWM

Thank you for your gifts and support. It is much needed and greatly appreciated.

Blessings in your work, worship and witness,

Steve Carpenter

Steve Carpenter Director of Development and Church Relations

Director of Development and Church Relations