Committee selected for Mennonite song collection

List includes five Canadians

June 30, 2016 | Web First

Six women and six men from across North America have been chosen to serve on the committee for the new song collection for Mennonite churches planned for release in 2020.

The committee selections were announced by Bradley Kauffman, recently named project director for the collection, and Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia, the agency managing the project on behalf of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

The steering committee received more than 60 applications for the positions of project director, project assistant, music editor, text editor, worship resources editor, and committee member. “All of the applicants were well-qualified,” noted Gingerich. “We could have put together at least three excellent committees from the candidates.”

The editorial assignments include:

  • Adam Tice, text editor. Tice has written hymn texts for more than 200 published songs and is a music composition graduate of Goshen College, with a minor in Bible and religion. Originally from Pennsylvania, he also served a pastorate near Washington, D.C.
  • Benjamin Bergey, music editor. Bergey is a doctor of music arts (DMA) candidate at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) in orchestral conducting. He is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, majoring in church music. He is part of The Table, a Virginia Mennonite Conference congregation.
  • Sarah Kathleen Johnson, worship resources editor. She is currently a Ph.D. student in liturgical studies at Notre Dame University (South Bend, Ind.). She formerly pastored in Ottawa and is a graduate of Conrad Grebel University College.

The remainder of the committee, alphabetically by last name, include:

  • Darryl Neustaedter Barg of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works for Mennonite Church Manitoba, with wide experience in worship music and recording/videography. He is a member of Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.
  • Paul Dueck of Cartier, Manitoba. Originally from Ontario, Dueck is a recently retired music educator and past graduate of Canadian Mennonite University, who taught at Swift Current Bible School. He also pastored a congregation in Windsor.
  • Mike Erb of New Hamburg, Ontario. He is music director at Hillcrest Mennonite Church and is actively involved in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, Mennofolk, and a recording studio.
  • Katie Graber of Columbus, Ohio. She is a graduate of Goshen College with a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin. Originally from Iowa, she teaches piano and music at two universities and is part of Columbus (Ohio) Mennonite Church.
  • Emily Grimes of Salem, Oregon. Grimes grew up attending Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen and is a graduate of Goshen College, in music education. She is the music director at Western Mennonite School in Oregon and attends Salem Mennonite Church.
  • Tom Harder of Wichita, Kansas. He is pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita, with a D.M.A. in guitar performance and an M.Div. from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, or AMBS).
  • SaeJin Lee of Elkhart, Indiana. She is a graduate of Goshen College and is currently studying at AMBS with a minor in music in worship. She is part of the Hively Avenue congregation and worked with music at the 2015 Mennonite World Conference.
  • Anneli Loepp Thiessen of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, she just finished a third year of studies in piano and worship at Canadian Mennonite University. She is part of The Gathering Church in Kitchener, Ont.
  • Cynthia Neufeld Smith of Topeka, Kansas. She has a B.A. from Bluffton University, an M.Div. from AMBS, and a D.M.A., all focused on worship and music. She and her husband, Roger, are co-pastors of Southern Hills Mennonite Church in Kansas.

The first meeting of the committee is planned for September 2016 in Harrisonburg.

The steering committee responsible for the work of the music committee consists of Russ Eanes and Amy Gingerich from MennoMedia; Terry Shue and Nicole Francisco Bailey representing Mennonite Church USA; and Karen Martens Zimmerly and Irma Fast Dueck representing Mennonite Church Canada.

Music committee members were selected partially on the basis of their compatibility with the guiding principles for the project, including an Anabaptist missional lens; a forward-looking vision for music in congregational life; an ability to work collaboratively; and a history of engaging a diversity of musical idioms.

The committee will be engaging additional consultants to help ensure that the collection addresses the needs of the 21st-century church.

See also:
Director announced for new Mennonite song collection project
Mennonites to compile new hymnal and more

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Exciting to see the "chosen ones" for this big project. No doubt all Mennonites who use the last Hymnal have been influenced. There were many excellent songs, and I hope many of them will make it into the new hymnal. When I first went through the Hymnal, I was both disappointed and also surprised and happy. Disappointed that there were not more gospel songs, and that so many were too difficult for congregational singing. Happy for all the old chorals and even one of my favorite choir songs that we used to sing in Virgil, ON. #124. Unfortunately, the only time I have heard it sung was when I requested it!
I have also been richly blessed by many of the new worship songs such as "Come, Now is the Time to Worship." It never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I sing that "someday every knee shall bow." Peter and I served in Japan for 45 years, and that was our deep longing that all should come to know our Lord Jesus Christ and bow before him, not to lifeless idols. "In Christ Alone..." and many others touch me deeply.
However, some have such terrible taste in music, I wonder how our song leaders can keep on choosing them. Our church, Emmanuel Mennonite in Abbottsford, is doing a good job of the 1/2 and 1/2 to keep both youth and seniors happy. We need each other!
Blessings as you embark on this tremendous task!

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