The time is near for the next generation’s hymnal. Scheduled for release in 2020, it will be more than a printed book.
Representatives from MennoMedia, Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA laid the foundation for a new song collection at an April meeting in Minneapolis.
The collection will include an electronic version as well as other supporting products.
The new volume will replace the 1992 Hymnal: A Worship Book, which succeeded the 1969 Mennonite Hymnal.
“Congregational responses show that it’s time to begin this project, as many congregations are noting wear and tear on their existing hymnals,” said Russ Eanes, publisher at MennoMedia.
Feasibility studies exploring the range of potential supporting products are under way.
MennoMedia plans to raise more than $400,000 to produce the collection.
“We are eager to see this new song collection serve and nurture the next generation of Anabaptist Mennonite believers — a generation characterized by broad diversity, incredible creativity and inspiring passion for God’s mission,” said Dave Bergen, executive minister of Christian formation and chief administrative officer for MC Canada.
Terry Shue, director of leadership development for MC USA, said: “As each generation builds on the faith and practices of those who came before us, the selections in this new song collection will both reflect what has been and shape our common identity as followers of Jesus.”
MennoMedia will publish the song collection in partnership with MC Canada and MC USA. A steering committee of six members will oversee the project.
The three parties started exploring the need for a new hymnal in 2008 when they surveyed worship and music leaders in Mennonite congregations. That work continued in summer 2011, when The Heart of Mennonite Worship was released as a study guide inviting congregations to think more deeply about worship. Congregations were asked to submit lists of the songs they sang each week.
In late 2014, the Joint Executive Committee of MC Canada and MC USA gave the green light to the project.
“We have a tremendous amount of data from congregations in the 2008 and 2011 surveys about the songs they sing each week and how they access music,” Eanes said.
MennoMedia plans to hire a full-time project director and a part-time project assistant.
A 10- to 12-member hymnal committee will work with the project staff. This committee will solicit and review music and texts, paying close attention to singability, theology and clarity.
Three members of the committee will be asked to serve in part-time roles as music editor, text editor and worship resources editor. All the other positions will be filled by volunteers.
Those interested in being part of the hymnal project committee will be able to apply in late 2015 at mennomedia.org. The committee’s first meeting will likely be in mid-2016.
The development process will include a one-year period when anyone can recommend songs. An online form will be created for submissions. People will be invited to recommend their favorite songs as well as new music or texts.