A dedicated fundraising website for the new song collection for Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA has been launched at hymnalproject606.com. MennoMedia is taking leadership of the new hymnal development. A digital version of much of the music is also anticipated.
The fundraising phase is called Project 606, a title drawn from the anthem version of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” affectionately known as “606” from its designation in the red 1969 Mennonite Hymnal. A fundraising objective of $606,000 will help with development costs ahead of sales years.
The 13-person song collection project committee comprised of both Canadian and U.S. citizens will meet for the first time September 22–25, 2016, in Harrisonburg.
Russ Eanes, MennoMedia’s executive director, notes he has been asked more than once, “When you do a new hymnal, can you put ‘606’ back in its place?”
In March 2016, Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg sponsored a concert of the British a cappella music group Voices 8. Their mix of sacred and pop music entertains audiences all over the world. As is customary toward the end of the EMHS concert, the again mostly Mennonite audience sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” in a cappella for Voces 8. As Eanes related, Voces 8 listened on stage in quiet appreciation. When the echoes of the final “Amen” receded, Voces 8 gave the crowd a loud ovation.
One member of the group, Ollie, was in tears. He later explained, “Sorry I was blubbing. Last year I was in a serious car accident, totaling my car. Amazingly, I wasn’t injured, but I blacked out. While I was unconscious, I had a strange sense of being taken care of in a special way. I felt held and looked after. It had a profound impact on me.” The audience’s singing of “606” again moved him, reminding him of God’s care.
Mennonites sometimes take beautiful singing for granted. “But we should never forget what a gift it is, and that this gift is so readily obvious to outsiders,” reminds Eanes.
To date, more than $235,000 has been given or promised, representing nearly 40 percent of the goal. HymnalProject606.com accepts credit cards; those who give $500 or more over the next three years can be named or honor a loved one, with a line in the back of the hymnal. In addition to donations at the website, people can recommend favorite songs.
A separate song and worship resources collection website will be launched in the fall 2016, where writers, composers, and song writers will find submission guidelines.
MennoMedia resources can be previewed and/or purchased at www.commonword.ca, where sale items are priced competitively with major online retailers, and loaned books are shipped free. MennoMedia is the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church Canada. You can also browse MennoMedia resources at www.mennomedia.org. Purchases help support the national church and its publisher.