The Gift of Bringing Grebel Voices Together

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

John and Joanne Bender

Every Sunday night for an hour, students from the Conrad Grebel community come together for a hymn sing to create and learn music together. Because of the pandemic, students gather outside with masks, but they bring the same excitement and love of music. With the upcoming release of the new Mennonite Hymnal, Voices Together, there is little doubt that Grebel students will engage with the new music as they have with the old. Ed Janzen, the Chaplin at the Grebel, said, “Our copies of the 1993 Hymnal: Worship Book have been well-loved by students throughout the years.  Voices Together comes at a perfect time to renew our physical collection of hymnals and to renew us in worship with both familiar and new songs.  We look forward to how this new hymnal will help us grow in faith."

The cost for hymnals, accompaniment books, and other worship resources is $5000.  To help Grebel reach this goal, John (BSc ’72) and Joanne (MSc ’74) Bender will match donations up to $2500.

Music for worship has been important for this Waterloo couple.  John, a former student at Conrad Grebel and his wife Joanne are regulars at events and concerts at Grebel. They have made this generous challenge gift for Giving Tuesday to purchase new hymnals at Grebel. Joanne said, “Supporting this special project was a natural choice for us, as we feel so strongly about the need for fresh music in worship.” In fact one of Joanne’s hymns “God be with us on our Journey” will be included in the new hymnal.

“Voices Together” will be released in December 2020. Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Grebel’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipient, was part of the editorial team that selected the hymns, wrote worship resources, and curated art for the hymnal.

The Grebel Chapel committee and Music department are thrilled by the prospect of having new hymnals for our students. Learning new music in different styles, from different cultures, and composed in different times is an amazing opportunity for students.

"Conrad Grebel holds many memories for John,” noted Joanne.  “We were glad that our son Mike also shared the Grebel experience. The community support, the fellowship, and the spiritual environment at Grebel are really important for students as they navigate their university experience.”

“We are so pleased to have John and Joanne Bender step up to support this project with a matching gift for Giving Tuesday 2020,” said Fred W Martin, Grebel’s Director of Advancement. “As students learn new hymns and continue to enjoy the old classics, these new hymnals will bring joy to the Grebel community for many years to come.”

John and Joanne will match your gifts up to $2500! Please join us!

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