The Pathfinder Sabbath’s theme was Honor Him with Hymns on Dec. 2, 2023, at Chapel Oaks Church in Shawnee, Kansas.  No praise service lyrics were displayed on the screen for any of the songs. Why? Because the KC Explorers Pathfinder club insisted that the congregation must use hymnals. The Pathfinders created pictures based on hymn lyrics and as the congregation sang each hymn its picture was displayed.  Pathfinders also read responsive readings for the call to offering and scripture reading. More activities included Pathfinders explaining the definition of a hymn and an interview between two Pathfinders about the various places where hymns are sung.

The children’s story included two skits about two different hymn writers. One was William Hyde, who had been in the room when Miss Ellen Harmon had her first vision. The experience was so memorable that he wrote a hymn based on that vision which became Mrs. Ellen White’s favorite hymn (Hymn # 453 We Have Heard). The second skit told the story of Fanny Crosby, who lost her sight as an infant. Her poetry writing prowess worked hand-in-hand with hymn writing, where she excelled in writing lyrics to as many as 5,000-8,000 hymns. (Since Crosby used about 200 pseudonyms, no one knows exactly how many hymns she wrote.)  Nineteen of her hymns are in the Seventh-day Adventist hymnal.

Active participation characterized the service. Attendees wrote the name and number of their favorite hymn on an index card, discussed it with others, and shared their favorites with the congregation. The sermon delved into explanations of various biblical hymns, followed by quizzes for the audience. Quizzes continued as everyone opened their hymnals to explore the treasures in the back of the book. The congregation learned how to use each of the different segments, such as the Call To Worship and Benediction pages. They also learned how to use the Topical Index of Hymns and Readings and the Scriptural Index of Worship Aides. The congregation used the Authors, Translators and Sources of Texts index to find songs written by author Fanny Crosby, then used the Composers, Arrangers and Sources of Tunes index to find a hymn composed by Martin Luther. Finally, participants used the Index of Titles and First Lines to find the hymn number for the song, Jesus Loves Me (Hymn #190).

Audience members signified their answers to the quizzes with different signs for A, B or C. Pathfinders handed out Skittles to the people who correctly answered quiz questions. The children in the congregation were invited to look at the song titles in the index called Hymns Suitable for Young Worshipers, and to stand up when they found a familiar song. They took turns calling out the names of a favorite hymn on that page. After the hymns topic, Eric Hansen, Pathfinder club director, explained the upcoming 2024 International Pathfinder Camporee to the congregation, and how this once-every-five-years event is an immeasurable blessing to everyone who attends.

The service concluded by counting index cards, revealing Amazing Grace as the most voted hymn. The praise team returned to perform this classic as the closing song. In the final moments, a Pathfinder announced, “Everyone in this congregation participated today in earning the Pathfinder honor, ‘Hymns.’ Congratulations! Thank you for earning this honor with us.”

Staff member Monique Hyden remarked, “The Pathfinder club aimed to provide church members a glimpse into Pathfinder meetings, and what better way than teaching an honor for Pathfinder Sabbath!”

Favorite hymn submission results:

  • 97 total hymns submitted
  • 56 hymns were unique (no one else identified that hymn as their favorite)
  • 11 votes for Amazing Grace Hymn #108 (1st place)
  • 7 votes for It is Well with My Soul Hymn #530 (2nd place)
  • 5 votes for In the Garden Hymn #487 (3rd place)

Four hymns tied for 4th place with three votes apiece:

  1. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing Hymn #334
  2. Be Still My Soul Hymn #461
  3. Because He Lives Hymns #526
  4. Great Is Thy Faithfulness Hymn #100

Dawn Burke is a Pathfinder staff member with the Kansas City Explorers.