Note: In early February, a comprehensive report on the work of the WELS Hymnal project was posted to our website and distributed through several synod-wide communication channels. We are also featuring each section of the report here on our website's blog. As each section is featured we invite your feedback using the contact form on the bottom of the page.
Pastor Jonathan Bauer, Chairman
From the time the hymnal project started, the Communications Committee (CC) has been assisting the members of the project primarily by seeking to gather information and input from the congregations and schools of our church body. This research has taken a variety of forms, including: conducting four major surveys, collecting hymn usage data, and receiving and processing feedback through the project website.
A summary of what has been learned about worship in our church body so far was shared in the summer of 2015. That summary was published in Forward in Christ and in the 2015 Synod Convention’s Book of Reports and Memorials. The feedback we’ve received thus far has been very valuable as the members of the project have begun their work, and we are very grateful for it.
As the hymnal project progresses, the CC’s work will eventually transition away from our current focus on research. We are also responsible for utilizing the natural opportunity that a hymnal project presents to renew people’s awareness and appreciation for Lutheran worship principles. As the publication approaches we will also work in tandem with the marketing department at Northwestern Publishing House to promote the new hymnal and its accompanying resources.
Where We Are Headed
As the hymnal project approaches the halfway point, its members are pleased to be able to share with the synod this comprehensive update on our work. This update is being distributed to the called workers throughout our church body as well as through other official synodical channels. It is available in its entirety on our project website and will also be posted section by section on our website’s blog.
Pastors and teachers are encouraged to share the report with those they serve through whatever channels are available to them. Feel free to use this as an opportunity to invite people to subscribe to have updates delivered to their inbox by registering their email address on our website.
We invite anyone’s feedback on the information being distributed. That feedback is best offered through the contact form on our website.
Field testing period
During the next year and a half, the CC will be busy assisting the other project subcommittees in putting some of their early materials in front of the congregations and schools of our church body for their use and review.
The materials that are distributed for testing will naturally lean heavily toward the components of the new hymnal that could potentially be new or revised. This shouldn’t be construed as an indication of the makeup of the final product, plenty of which will be unchanged from the material found in our current resources.
It is our desire for every congregation and school to have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback on the various materials being developed. However, for most of the field testing process, we will be seeking the assistance of various random samplings of congregations and schools. In order to receive accurate and helpful feedback, it is necessary to engage sample groups that are representative of the synod as a whole (e.g. from varying locations and of varying sizes). It is also necessary to receive feedback not only from those who would otherwise gladly volunteer it on their own but from those whose feedback needs to be sought.
We look forward to sharing updates and results of this field testing process. As the project continues to progress, we plan to release to the church body as a whole a set of materials representative of each committee’s work to that point.