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MennoMedia responds to “Rethinking 606”

12.11. 2017 Written By: Amy Gingerich 569 Times read

Amy Gingerich is the editorial director incoming CEO of MennoMedia. This piece is responding to Austin McCabe Juhnke’s reflections, “Rethinking 606.” 

Thanks to Austin McCabe Juhnke for delineating various historical aspects related to Mennonite hymnals. I offer the following points of clarification.

MennoMedia was charged by the Joint Executive Committee of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada to create the forthcoming Mennonite Worship and Song Collection. That charge in November 2014 came after careful research by MennoMedia as the publisher and a larger binational worship and song committee. In the charge, MennoMedia was tasked with raising all the money to make the collection a reality. The staff and board at MennoMedia have taken this charge seriously, and to make this project a reality we quickly got to work determining how to fund a project that we estimate will cost between $600,000-$700,000 before the first book is even sold. A fundraising campaign was launched, dubbed Project 606, to raise the money.

Later we invited applications and appointed what we have been calling the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee to carry out the work of determining structure, music and everything else that will go into this enormous project. This forward-looking team of 13 individuals plus a project director is deeply invested in the future of the church and carefully curating music and worship resources to guide and direct us as we seek to follow Christ. The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee has chosen to use the name Resonate to channel enthusiasm for their work. HymnalProject606.com has always been a fundraising website while www.MennoMedia.org/Resonate remains the place to find information about the work of the committee and curating the actual collection.

On October 31, we had an internal meeting about the conundrum of the various (and confusing) names for different aspects of the project. Because the work of the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is well underway it’s confusing to still be using Project 606 as the name of the fundraising effort. It’s equally confusing to maintain a fundraising website that isn’t the place to find salient information on the project. In that meeting we decided to retire the Project 606 name and bring everything together. Changes to the Project 606 fundraising website were made over the weekend of Nov. 11. The screenshot McCabe-Juhnke shared, and his reference to Garrison Keillor, had actually been removed from the fundraising website by the time his blog was published. (The screenshot in his blog post is dated Nov. 7 and his blog post is dated Nov 28.) We had no idea he was writing this blog post, just as he had no idea we were in the midst of changing our fundraising language.

We hear your caution, Austin, about what some have characterized as idolatry around Dedication Anthem 606.  Part of our intention in moving away from the Project 606 fundraising language is to signal that the forthcoming collection is fully invested in the church now and in the future. As someone who sits on the committee in an ex-officio capacity listening to the careful discernment of these people, I can attest that they undertake this task with utmost seriousness. Our music shapes our theology and these are forward-looking thinkers, I can assure you.

One final point: the need to raise money for the new hymnal has not diminished. That’s where this whole Project 606 moniker got started. MennoMedia will not be able to complete the project by Fall 2020 if we do not have donors and supporters that contribute to this effort. You can find ways to contribute music and worship resource ideas, complete surveys and give a financial gift at www.MennoMedia.org/Resonate.

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