Discipleship Ministries Board Approves New Hymnal Petition for GC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Aug. 10, 2015 /Discipleship Ministries/ – The Discipleship Ministries Board of Directors has approved initial steps toward developing a new official hymnal that would use the latest digital technology to provide music and worship resources in ways that can be customized to meet the needs of different faith communities.

The board, meeting in Nashville, endorsed legislation to develop the new hymnal that will be submitted for approval at the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Dr. Timothy L. Bias, General Secretary (chief executive) of Discipleship Ministries, said if approved by the church’s top legislative assembly, the revised hymnal will be “a new, relevant, and widely used version of The United Methodist Hymnal” and a vital tool for carrying the church’s theology on for generations.

The Hymnal Revision Committee at Discipleship Ministries would have primary responsibility for the content of the new resource, which would use cloud technology to periodically curate a very large collection of music and worship resources in ways that can be customized to meet the needs of different contexts. While part of the collection would be uniform across all versions, another part would contain additional hymns, songs and worship resources that could be selected based on the preferences of the congregation or user.

The board of The United Methodist Publishing House, which would oversee the development, production and distribution of the resource, has also approved the same legislation for next year’s General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Once developed, the new hymnal collection would be offered to the 2020 General Conference for final approval.

In all, the Discipleship Ministries board reviewed, discussed and approved a total of 20 petitions to forward to General Conference, including legislation to remove language to provide clarity in Book of Discipline wording that restricts the use of agency funds on anything that promotes homosexuality.

The legislation releases fear/restraint so agencies can enter constructive conversations toward providing equal rights and justice for all United Methodists. The UMC would be able to respond to Resolution #2121 by the use of statistics, resources and programs and develop proactive theological responses to the LGBTQ community, preventing despair and hopelessness of those alienated by the church’s theological stance on sexuality.

“The efforts put forth by the leadership and staff of Discipleship Ministries continues to be of tremendous value to the annual conferences and congregations of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Elaine Stanovsky of the Mountain Sky Episcopal area, who serves as president of the Discipleship Ministries Board of Directors.

Bishop Stanovsky said the agency looks forward to sending its petitions for consideration at the General Conference next year.

“I am proud of the quality resources that the leadership and staff at Discipleship Ministries make available to help our church grow vital congregations to serve our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Bias said.

The Discipleship Ministries board also wrote and affirmed a statement on hate crimes, “An Outcry Against Hatred and Hate Crimes and a Commitment to Prophetic Love.” (Click here for full statement.)

Board members received updates on this summer’s highly successful YOUTH 2015 where 4,500 United Methodist young people experienced four days of life-changing worship, learning, discipleship, outreach and fun in Orlando.

In addition, the board approved:

  • $100,000 to award 17 projects with the Grants for Ministries with Young People
  • 10 Youth Service Fund projects totaling $40,000
  • Recommendations to fund four students with the David W. Self Scholarship and one student with the Richard S. Smith Scholarship, each scholarship totaling $2,500
  • $23,300 to 24 applicants for the Global Scholarship for 2015-2016
  • $195,000 in Vitality Grants to 23 congregations for their efforts to become more vital

Among other business items, the board received updates on the “One Matters” award and staff visits to annual conferences, approved Reports to General Conference for Discipleship Ministries, Native American Comprehensive Plan and Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, and received reports from the Central Conference, Evaluation, Executive, Finance and Fund Development Committees.