Methodists/UM Hymnal

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Question
Rev. Neal:  last night, our Wednesday Evening Bible study was solely about the United Methodist Hymnal.  This study was led by our pastor who went into great detail about the richness of the songs in our hymnal as well as all the other resources (creeds, Psalters, various worship services, Prayers, etc) contained therein.  After teaching about how great the UMH is, she told that the new hymnal is coming and it will be a big adjustment... and not everyone will like it.  She insists that the new UMH will be published and available for purchase in 2014.  She has mentioned this to me previously in passing (on a one on one basis) and I told her that is not the case. It is my understanding that the finished hymnal will require approval from the General Conference, so the earliest we can anticipate having them in our churches is 2017.  It is also my understanding that all work has stopped on developing the hymnal so reality is we won't see it before 2021, if then. Now she has announced that we will be purchasing the new UMH (not the current UMH) in 2014 to the church.  I have researched the internet and can only find that all work on the new UMH is stopped indefinitely.  My question:  is there a date set for publication and sale of the new hymnal?  I look forward to your answer.

Answer
Dear John,

I don't now what your pastor is talking about.

The 2012 General Conference did not approve a new Hymnal for the church.  The proposed hymnal revision, work for which was authorized by the 2008 General Conference, ground to a halt in 2009 due to lack of sufficient funding for the endeavor (both at the General Church level and at the local church level).  As a result, no proposed Hymnal was received or approved by the 2012 General Conference.  Additionally, the 2012 General Conference did NOT approve a new hymnal commission to begin the work afresh, meaning that there will NOT be a new hymnal, or even a revision of the current hymnal, to be presented to the 2016 General Conference for approval and publication by 2017 or 2018.

Minor revisions ("corrections"), supplements (like "The Faith We Sing" Hymnal Supplement), and other similar resources are in production, but they are NOT intended to replace our 1988 Hymnal.

Indeed, it seems very unlikely to me that even the 2016 General Conference would approve a commission to produce a revised hymnal.  An internet based revision is possible, for it would be far cheaper to licensee, produce, distribute, and use by our churches (given current and future technologies), but the work on such won't even be able to begin until and if the 2016 General Conference were to approve it.  And, then, we would have to wait until the 2020 General Conference for such a production to be approved for use.

In short, don't look for a new Hymnal to replace our 1988 Hymnal anytime before 2021 or 2022.  And, personally, I doubt we'll see anything approved and published for use in our churches (as a replacement for the 1988 hymnal) before 2025 or 2026.

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Rev. Gregory S. Neal

Expertise

I can answer questions dealing with all issues of United Methodist Doctrine and Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. In particular I can answer questions dealing with the Sacraments and other liturgical and worship-oriented questions. I can also answer questions dealing with the form, structure, and organization of the United Methodist Church and our relationship with other denominations.

Experience

I am an ordained United Methodist Elder with more than 20 years of ministerial service experience in the local Church.

Organizations
I am a Clergy Member in Full Connection and have been a member of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1991. I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. I am also a member of the Emmaus Community, and am currently serving as Senior Spiritual Director for the Dallas Emmaus Community. I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke in the United Methodist Church.

Publications
I have my own website: www.RevNeal.org.   I have written two books, "Grace Upon Grace" and "Seeking the Shepherd's Arms," both available at Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Education/Credentials
I have a BA in Religious Studies, History and Russian. I have an M.Div in Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies and a Ph.D in Sacramental Theology and New Testament.

Awards and Honors
Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church
Fellow of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

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