Minnesota United Methodists have given $5,000 to the Association of Hmong United Methodist Congregations to help produce the first American hymnal in Hmong.
The Hmong came from Laos, and their ancestors originated in southwestern China. The United States has about 300,000 Hmong Americans, according to 2001 data. About 80,000 live in Minnesota, and another 80,000 are in Wisconsin.
"I am pleased that we could provide substantial assistance to the Hmong hymnal project," said the Rev. Jim Perry, director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference. "There are now as many Hmong people in Minnesota as in any other state in our union. Their presence enriches both our state and our annual conference."
Hmong United Methodists have been making do with hymnals that contain hymn texts only, said the Rev. TsuKer Yang, a member of the Hmong caucus and pastor of Hmong Asbury United Methodist Church in St. Paul, Minn. In 1993, the caucus started work on a hymnal that would contain both Hmong texts and musical notation. The caucus is asking the Minnesota, California-Nevada, Wisconsin, and Western North Carolina annual conferences as well as the denominations Board of Discipleship and the Board of Global Ministries to help fund the books printing. The initial printing will be 5,000 copies. Printing costs are estimated to be $65,000.
Once printed, the hymnals will be distributed to Hmong United Methodist congregations. The remainders will be offered for sale to other Hmong Christian churches.
"This hymnal is a tangible connection of the Hmong heritage with the United Methodist heritage as a singing people," Perry said. "Now, together, we can be singing United Methodists!"
*Rebeck is director of communication for the Minnesota Annual Conference
By Victoria Rebeck