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 (Indiana) College in 1996 and completed a master of arts in choral conducting at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, 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 (Kansas) College. From 2005 to 2007, he directed instrumental music at Bethany Christian Schools, Goshen, Indiana. At Iowa Mennonite School in Kalona, Iowa, he was vocal and instrumental music instructor from 1997–2005.
Kauffman has led Music Week at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Pennsylvania two years, and has been active across the church 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.