By Jessica Brodie
PORTLAND, Ore.—General Conference approved May 17 legislation authorizing a new Internet-based-cloud United Methodist hymnal that will be available both digitally and in print.
South Carolina lay delegate Dr. David Braddon, on the board of the United Methodist Publishing House, explained that the General Board of Discipleship in conjunction with the UMPH have responsibility for recommending when or if the church needs a new hymnal.
“The existing hymnal was put in place in 1989, so it’s been 27 years since the hymnal has been revised, and those two bodes deemed it is time for revision,” Braddon said.
Braddon said the digital aspect of the hymnal gives congregations a lot of choice. It will have a core piece, but there will also be supplemental pieces available as options.
“One can choose different genres of music depending on the needs of that congregation,” Braddon said. “Also, if you don’t need pew hymnals and simply are using screens, you can get it in digital format and don’t need to buy books.”
A standing committee has been established to determine the content of the hymnal. Braddon said the committee’s work will begin no later than Jan. 1, 2017, and the hymnal itself will be available by General Conference 2020.
Braddon also said once this revision is complete, it will be far easier to revise the hymnal in the future because of the new digital nature.
The Rev. MaryJane Pierce Norton, interim general secretary of Discipleship Ministries, said her group is grateful the legislation was adopted.
“We anticipate the canon that is developed will be fully reflective of the diversity of our United Methodist Church with inclusion of hymns and songs, worship and ritual resources that reflect a variety of styles appropriate for churches of every size,” Norton said.
The Rev. Brian K. Milford, incoming president of UMPH, said his group “is eager to get started with this groundbreaking approach building on our Wesleyan tradition with treasured and new hymns and worship aids that will help us honor God as a singing people.”