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New United Methodist Hymnal on hold

Hand holding hymnal

A new United Methodist Hymnal is on hold, given debates about the denomination’s future. But a new Worship Resources collection is being planned .

The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) and Discipleship Ministries (DM) are working to expand the array of options, ease in accessing, and utility of high-quality worship resources used by a wide array of UM congregations. 

A new United Methodist Worship Resources Collection (UMWRC) will combine all currently approved UMC official hymnody and liturgies and will be supplemented with a curated assortment of additional products that are of high quality, sound theology, and practical use for congregations to enrich, enliven, and expand options for vital worship in The United Methodist Church. The new collection will be available in multiple digital (including downloadable) and print formats.

The UMWRC will be available as early as Fall 2020. Meanwhile, work on a new version of the General Conference approved UM Hymnal will be deferred. The two agencies recognize that the official denominational hymnal embodies historically representative elements as well as curated new materials reflecting diversity of people, worship styles, musical genres, and contributors of hymns, tunes, and liturgical resources. Approved hymnals encapsulate a point-in-time consensus by the connectional Church about what is essential and most useful for all to adopt and use.

The current debates about the future, polity, and organization of The United Methodist Church, in annual conferences and constituency groups across the connection, demonstrates that the denomination is not ready to coalesce with strong consensus about a fixed collection of worship and musical resources. As a result, the agencies’ ability to forecast levels of receptivity and financial capacity in UM congregations to purchase and use a new official hymnal are too tenuous in light of the major investments of time, talent, and money required to research, assemble, produce, and launch a new General Conference endorsed collection of UMC worship resources.

The DM and UMPH boards of directors have determined that while it is prudent to postpone the expensive work on the Hymnal Revision Project at this time, the two agencies will collaborate to compile a new, vibrant, and practical United Methodist Worship Resources Collection (working title). 

Rev. Junius Dotson, DM General Secretary, said “UM congregations regularly supplement music and worship resources with materials beyond what is currently available in the UM Hymnal. Congregations will benefit from and value expertly curated, adeptly sorted, and easily accessed music and liturgical aids from which to select and use with confidence.” The two agencies stated that quick and easy access to the collection will make for lower costs and faster planning, searching, sorting, and distribution for congregations of all sizes, including small churches with limited budgets.

“The work of curating the collection will continue with representatives of both agencies and members of the current Hymnal Revision Committee, showing care in making selections that reflect and amplify UMC theology, values, affections, affirmations, and missional aims,” said Rev. Rev. Brian K. Milford, UMPH President and Publisher. The Rev. Anna Moon, associate pastor of  TroyHope Korean United Methodist Church, is a member of the Hymnal Revision Committee.

Rev. Dotson noted that “the review and curation team will honor the commitment to persons who responded to our calls for new resources, and we will continue to accept submissions of new materials, including hymns, songs, and liturgies.”

UMPH and DM will also conduct congregational engagement programs, including listening sessions, demonstration events, experiments, and training sessions in local settings over the course of the development and promotion of the new collection. The agencies will conduct research and foster collaborative relationships with annual conferences, local churches, and others such as local pastor training program leaders, as well as The Fellowship (FUMMWA), Hymn Society, and North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL).

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