Hamm played big part in assembling Mennonite hymnal

Authored by Jim Langham on Apr 5, 2013

A former Geneva woman and South Adams graduate, Marilyn Hamm, played a large part in assisting with the publication of the General Conference Mennonite North American publication of the Hymnal Worship Book.
“I was called to be part of the General Conference (Mennonite) representation for a new hymnal that was a North American publication,” said Hamm in a recent visit to Berne. “I became chairman of the music committee.”
Hamm has also served as Director of Spirituality for Mennonite Church Canada and has been actively engaged in resourcing the wider church in music and has served as a leader, clinician, performer, composer and arranger.
Hamm, the daughter of the late Ward and Louise Houser of Geneva, cannot remember a time when music wasn’t a major part of her life. In high school, she was actively involved in piano accompanying around the area, was committed to Youth for Christ and advanced to one of the top performers in the Youth for Christ national contest at Winona Lake.
Following graduation from South Adams in 1969, Hamm attended Goshen College where she received an undergraduate music degree. Hamm then attended a Christian Service organization in Georgia where she met and married Ray Hamm, from Manitoba, Canada.
“We moved to Manitoba, but we didn’t intend to stay,” said Hamm.
That changed, however, when Hamm and her husband felt a calling to assist with ministry to Russian Mennonites who had moved into the area just prior to the Russian Revolution. The main purpose for moving was to gain freedom from military service.
“They live in European style street villages with clusters of houses,” explained Hamm. “We gave ourselves to community building and churches there.
“For me, when I saw this place in southern Manitoba it looked like it had been transplanted from Strasbourg, France and Switzerland, an area that I had visited during a special study trip. The European-like connection was very important to me at the time.”
A career-shaping move that Hamm made after arriving in Manitoba was the acquisition of a Canadian Piano Performance Degree Certification.
Eventually, Hamm was called from within the community and named to serve in a wider church ministry, a North American ministry. She became a resource person to serve in wider church connections and in global assemblies.
“I became a worship and music consultant throughout the church,” said Hamm.
Hamm was invited to become program director for the Mennonite Church in Canada. She directed several program offices connected with spirituality, was in charge of the congregational partnerships program, worked with peace and justice ministries and was invited to do a recording for solo piano.
For the last eight years, Hamm has served in music education for the music department of a Mennonite High School in the area.
Currently, in addition to working with education and professional accompanying in the area, she is doing graduate work to acquire a master’s degree in worship and theology at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.
Most recently, Hamm is being published in the April issue of the American Choral Journal.
While Hamm has been serving in the Mennonite Church, her husband spent many years working for the Mennonite Central Committee. He also served in the Peace and Justice office.
In 1982, the Hamms were called into pastoral ministry and served in the Altoona, Manitoba area through 1994. These days, Marilyn and Ray reside in New Bergthal where they live in her husband’s four-generation family homestead.
For many years, Ray Hamm worked with the Commission in Home Ministries. These days, he serves as administrator of the local senior housing development.
Concerning her continued commitment to music in the Mennonite Church, Hamm said, “I am very committed to the people’s voice in worship. I love to see the strength and power of the people’s voice in worship. I have a real passion to enhance people’s experience in worship.”

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