To educate and empower lay leaders and congregations to understand and embrace the various worship cultures that are part of the Mennonite song tradition in North America.
Provide a brief summary of the purpose and goal of your grant.
Our goal was to share vital practices, key learnings, and stories from the enormous labor and gifts of prayer, listening, and research surrounding the new denominational hymnal, Voices Together.
What are two questions that have generated reflection on worship and helped shape your project?
- How do the words and music that we use in worship shape our conscious and unconscious ideas about who God is, who we are, and who God calls us to be?
- How does (or how should) the contexts or origins of songs and worship resources inform how they are used in worship?
What impact has your project had on the worship life and habits of the congregation?
Our webinars included many invited video clips - composers and writers telling stories behind their songs and prayers, or musicians and pastors telling what the words and music means to them. Viewers say they have used these videos in virtual worship, adding “a depth of dimension to the music and words.” One worship planner said “I loved seeing Voices Together worship materials in action” and others affirm that a “guided tour” helped them choose materials appropriate for their worship contexts.
What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?
Representing and equipping the diversity of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada is an ongoing challenge. We made an effort to represent differences in demographics, language, and culture, theology, and more in our invited speakers and participants. We tried to cover a variety of theological, pastoral, and worship planning topics that would appeal to and inspire a wide variety of hymnal users across North America.
What would you like to share with other Project Directors?
I'm sure all Project Directors have dealt with being flexible during the pandemic. I want to share a celebration of worship planners and song leaders' creativity over the past year. My team has learned a lot about what makes online worship feel engaging and authentic, and we have observed how virtual worship has allowed sharing and connections beyond smaller communities. I hope others have also found the positive effects amidst these difficult times.