*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

‘Ban a hymn’ auction raises funds and a few hackles

04 September 2015

Banning unpopular hymns: the Revd Meg Barnhouse

Banning unpopular hymns: the Revd Meg Barnhouse

"WE ARE never weary singing our eternal song," begins one of Fanny Crosby’s hymns. But it was the Revd Meg Barnhouse’s realisation that some members of her congregation were, in fact, weary of some of their songs of praise which prompted her to devise a fundraising scheme with a difference.

As the senior minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, in Texas, Ms Barnhouse oversees an annual auction to raise funds for the church budget.

Last spring, Item 61 offered bidders the opportunity to "ban a hymn for a year". The form advised participants to name the hymn, "so if someone loves that hymn they may outbid you and retire their least favourite hymn instead".

"I knew that this particular congregation would take it in good spirit," she said on Tuesday. "They know me and trust my good will and intentions."

Since the auction, Ms Barnhouse has seen an "explosion" of feedback.

"Most people were saying ‘What a brilliant fund-raising idea!’" she said. "Others said that they would rather pick a favourite hymn. Banning one is so much more fun. I’ve had some really pretty cross responses from other ministers who say: ‘I think that it is so negative; I would never do that.’ It’s fine. We enjoy being a little bit wicked."

This year, the winning bid — $125 — secured a year-long sabbatical for "Bring many names". Ms Barnhouse’s own choice would have been "We live, we die, we laugh, we cry". She plans to run the auction again next year: "There are some really awful ones," she said.

 

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)