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A joyful noise: international music glorifies God

Forest Hills Mennonite Church in Leola, Pennsylvania, USA, hosted last year’s Lancaster county first annual MWC international sing-along. Photo: Jon Carlson.
Release date: 
Monday, 16 January 2017

2nd annual Lancaster international hymn sing

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Anabaptist Christians in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, had a taste of Revelation 7:9 worship when they hosted Mennonite World Conference’s Assembly 16 in July 2015. A local committee is building on that experience with an annual sing-along in the spirit of that international gathering. This year’s event will be 21 January 2017 at Akron (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Church.

The goal is “to get Anabaptists together from diverse churches to celebrate the international church with international music, learning international songs and supporting MWC and the global church,” says Lynn Roth, MWC North America regional representative. The January date coincides with World Fellowship Sunday (the Sunday closest to 21 January).

“The focus is on congregational singing, not performance,” says Roth, though some of the musicians were part of the stage team at Assembly 16.

The songs primarily come from the Assembly songbook, but there is opportunity for new additions, especially from local ethnic churches, says Roth. In 2016, they sang “Fabricante de paz,” a new song Marisol Arriaga Aranda of Mexico wrote for WFS and shared with MWC.

“Having experienced the joy of singing together at the global assembly in Harrisburg a few months earlier, this hymn sing felt very meaningful for many of us,” says pastor Jon Carlson of Forest Hills Mennonite Church, Leola, Pennsylvania, host to the first sing-along 31 January 2016. “Forest Hills was thankful to host an event that reminded us of our connections to sisters and brothers around the world.”

In 2017, organizers are planning a morning workshop for congregational song leaders to learn international worship songs.

Roth hopes the event “can evolve a local committee committed to MWC, working with a local host church.”

Earlier, in Ontario, Canada, some 60–70 Anabaptists participated in at an international songfest at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, 6 December 2016 with MWC general secretary César Garcia and president Nelson Kraybill as special speakers.

As Assembly 17 draws nearer, an international sing-along presents an opportunity to learn Indonesian songs in preparation for worship sessions in Semarang, Indonesia, in 2021.

“Our musical traditions may be different, but they all express a common desire to glorify God through song,” says Carlson.

—Mennonite World Conference release by Karla Braun

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