Voices Together in Worship Conference raised the roof and raised the bar on worship

Voices Together in Worship Conference raised the roof and raised the bar on worship

Over 200 voices rose together in joyful song at the Voices Together in Worship Song Feast on May 10 in the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) chapel. The following day saw 70 people gather for a resourcing day around worship practices. All this was based on the new Voices Together Hymnal (VT).

“We launched the new Voices Together Hymnal during a global pandemic. We had planned a large celebration and teaching event in Winnipeg for the occasion,” explains Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Director of Communications for Mennonite Church Manitoba (MCM), and member of the committee that created VT. “Now, finally, four years later, we gather as a community to celebrate this work and do some learning together. I’m beyond thrilled.”

The Song Feast explored a wide range of material in the new song collection interspersed with short reflections on creativity by Bethel Mennonite pastor Kevin Derksen. Unique features of the evening included a passionate explanation of the Bach Chorale by long-time church musician and CMU professor George Wiebe, and a celebration of the career of Irma Fast Dueck, professor at CMU, who championed the worship arts in MCM and beyond in her teaching.

“Creating beautiful things requires practice, guidance, and repetition with evaluation. Why would worship be different?” asked one participant at the Saturday resourcing day. Another noted that the last four years have seen a lot of change in our churches, including many new people leading worship and music. In our Mennonite tradition, this is lay-led work, often not well resourced.

In the opening plenary talk by VT committee members Anneli Loepp Thiessen and Katie Graber, participants were invited to move into small groups to reflect on worship in their congregation: what they are doing and why they are doing it.

“It can be a delicate balance to plan worship that cares for the preferences of worship leaders and congregants, while also leading the community toward a prophetic response to a fuller image of God and God’s reign,” suggested Loepp Thiessen and Graber.

The second plenary by VT committee member Sarah Johnson helped participants understand what the Voices Together Worship Leader Edition is. This unique volume, edited by Johnson, is a wide ranging collection of worship resources and short essays on worship from music to worship leading to technology and much more.

Worship and workshops rounded out the resourcing segment of the weekend. Participants expressed gratitude for the day.

For more information on the Voices Together Hymnal visit www.voicestogetherhymnal.org.

To learn more about this event, visit www.mennochurch.mb.ca/worship. Mennonite Church Manitoba and Canada—through regional church staff, CommonWord, Together in Worship, and more—support congregations in their worship, faith formation, congregational care, and community mission. Pray for these ministries we share together, and consider giving to support these ministries at www.mennochurch.mb.ca/giving.