Methodist Church

Hymnal revision stopped due to lack of funds

NASHVILLE (Tennessee) – Work has been halted on a proposed new United Methodist Hymnal, making it the latest victim of the economic crisis.

Bishop Ernest S. Lyght, Chairman of the Hymnal Revision Committee, said: “ The resources required to sustain a dedicated staff and pay for the planned activities are simply not available at this time.”

The United Methodist Publishing House would have to invest at least US$2 million (S$2.9 million) to develop a new hymnal and funding is not available from ongoing operations or from reserves, said Mr Neil Alexander, President and Publisher.

The 2008 United Methodist General Conference approved “with joyful excitement” creation of a committee to bring a proposed hymnal to the 2012 session of the denomination’s top legislative body.

The 2005-2008 study identified a need for a better mix of traditional hymns and new ones, the desire for more types of music and specific appeals for improvements, additional worship tools and official materials in different media formats.

The study also revealed that similar types of hymnals have about a 25-year life span, and many denominations that produced hymnals around the same time as the last United Methodist Hymnal have recently published or plan to publish new versions.

The Rev Karen Greenwaldt, top executive of the Board of Discipleship, and Mr Alexander said the two agencies would collaborate with each other and with worship leaders across the denomination in the next months. Special projects in the development of resources for the church’s liturgical life and music ministries would be pursued. The Facebook New United Methodist Hymnal Group will continue as a resource for new publishing projects in worship and music for the church.

The United Methodist Hymnal was published in 1989 and the proposed revision would have been the second since the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches in 1968. – United Methodist News Service.

Kathy L. Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville.


HK NGOs launch network for foreign workers

HONG KONG – Hong Kong Christian groups, including Methodists, have set up an ecumenical network to look after the basic labour rights of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.

The network was launched on July 19, 2009 on the grounds under the headquarters of Hong Kong Bank, an area where thousands of migrant workers spend their days off.

At the urging of non-governmental organisations, including Christian groups, the Hong Kong Government has agreed to implement minimum wage legislation within two years. But it intends to exclude at least 200,000 migrant workers, many of whom are domestic workers from the Philippines, from coverage. – United Methodist News Service.


Protestants in Japan mark 150 years

YOKOHAMA – Thousands of Japanese Christians have marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Protestant missionary work in Japan at a two-day assembly here.

Participants from the traditional, evangelical and Pentecostal Protestant churches in Japan declared their determination, in a July 9, 2009 statement, “to be united and to cooperate to tell the Gospel of the Cross and the resurrection on the occasion of the 150th anniversary”.

The 600,000 Protestant Christians constitute a religious minority of about 0.48 per cent of the total population of Japan. At the gathering, the Rev Nobuhisa Yamakita, one of the key organisers and Moderator of the United Church of Christ in Japan – the nation’s largest Protestant denomination – called on participants to “go cheerfully with joy to tell the Gospel” in order to rekindle church growth. – United Methodist News Service.