About 45 percent of WELS congregations have ordered Christian Worship: Hymnal and accompanying resources since its release in September. Most materials are now available and are being shipped to congregations and individuals who have preordered or are currently ordering. Christian Worship: Service Builder, a digital tool to help congregations with planning worship and generating service folders, is projected to be released the week after Christmas.
Resources are available to help people become familiar with some of the key new hymnal features and to help pastors guide congregations through their first use of Christian Worship materials. Resources include:
- Introduction scripts and a dedication rite.
- Video presentations that highlight hymns, psalms, and liturgies included in the new hymnal.
- Concert videos.
Some congregations are planning to purchase the new hymnal and resources in 2022, including St. John, Burlington, Wis. But even though St. John hasn’t yet bought the hymnal for its sanctuary, it already has started to introduce its members to it.
In November St. John hosted a hymnal introduction seminar where more than 100 people gathered to hear presentations as well as sing selections from the new hymnal and psalter. Both books were available for attendees to examine and use—and even buy. “This hymnal is something that will touch the lives and worship of all the members of the church,” says Rev. Kirk Lahmann, St. John’s pastor. “Because of this seminar, people were able to walk away saying, ‘I really understand why this is important,’ and that generates excitement.”
Now the church is working to raise money to buy hymnals for all the pews and enough psalters for the choir to use.
Once the hymnals are in the pews, the introduction process will continue. For worship services, Lahmann plans to distribute a simple outline to congregants and then have members use the hymnal to follow along rather than a service folder. “We need to learn how to navigate the book,” says Lahmann. “If we want this to be a book that is used in worship and the home, then let’s learn how to use it.”
Rev. Bryan Gerlach, director of the Commission on Worship, comments: “We recognize that congregations can be at very different stages of evaluating and obtaining new hymnal resources. Some preordered before the books were even in print for review. Some, like Burlington, waited longer. Others might not explore options yet for months. That’s okay. Whenever a congregation is ready, the online resources will help them explore the great benefits of the new hymnal suite of resources.”