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Mercer Unveils Title and Scope of New Baptist Hymnal

February 13, 2007

Media Contact: Judith Lunsford
(678) 547-6425

ATLANTA — More than 50 Baptist pastors, church musicians, composers, scholars and laymen from across the United States and Canada gathered at Mercer University’s Atlanta campus Feb. 1-2 to begin fine tuning a new Baptist hymnal. Scheduled for release in 2009, the 400th anniversary of Baptists, the hymnal is a collaborative initiative of the Townsend-McAfee Institute Graduate Studies in Church Music at Mercer and the Mercer University Press.


During the opening session, the editorial committee unveiled the official title of the hymnal: Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship.


“We want all Baptists to feel connected to this hymnal,” said Dr. John E. Simons, coordinating editor of the project and director of the Townsend-McAfee Institute Graduate Studies in Church Music at Mercer University. “Grace is part of what it is to be a Baptist, to be a Christian. For all of our differences, grace is a point of common ground among all of us.”


The three-year project has purposefully taken a grass-root approach to developing and designing the hymnal in order to be inclusive of all Baptists and to be open to new ideas for meeting the resource needs of churches.


“We began this project from ground level, without a predetermined agenda,” said Dr. Milburn Price, an editor of the project and a retired dean of the School of Performing Arts at Samford University. “We have brought together creative minds, and we are listening to what is being said. The project will benefit greatly from this process.”


The men and women participating in this project include nationally and internationally recognized authorities in hymnology in North America.  “They are contributing their knowledge and talents to making this new hymnal the finest music and worship resource available to churches,” said J. Thomas McAfee III, president and chairman of Hallmark Systems, who serves as the project chair. “We are all Baptists, and while we may not always agree, many want to come together on this and make it work.”


Broad in scope and supportive of Baptist patterns of worship, the hard-bound hymnal will be published for congregational use, yet will provide planning and supplemental resources (printed and online) for church worship leaders. It will include traditional hymns, congregational songs, scripture songs, worship readings, and extensive indices. Organized in a user-friendly manner, the hymnal will feature expanded sections on such topics as baptism, the Lord's Supper, family, Advent Lent, Easter, corporate worship, and praise. 


A core collection of 145 hymns has been selected for the hymnal through a survey of ministers of music across the country. To add to the core collection, committee members are reviewing and evaluating new music and hymns submitted for the hymnal.  The total collection is expected to include 600 to 650 hymns, plus online resources.


“A clear distinction of this hymnal project is the new collection it will offer,” said Dr. Price. “It is like no other at this time.”


A distinction of this hymnal will be the combination of printed and online resources for worship and ministry. The first of their kind, these comprehensive companion resources will provide worship planning tools, responsive readings and litanies, as well as the history of the hymns and information on the composers and authors. It will have searchable detailed and Biblical indices. Printed supplemental musical arrangements, such as for piano and organ, instrumental and orchestral, and descants and codas of varying difficulties, will be available online for immediate purchase and download.


“This online resource is a vast untapped area. No one is offering the depth and breath of information and materials we have planned,” said Dr. Stanley L. Roberts, an editor and director of Choral Activities at Townsend School of Music at Mercer University. “Churches of all sizes will benefit from having this tremendous addition to the hymnal.”


For more information on the Celebrating Grace Hymnal for Baptist Worship, contact Dr. John E. Simons at or (478) 301-2748.


Committee members of Mercer University’s Hymnal Project are:


Editorial Board

           Mr. J. Thomas McAfee III – Project Chair and Chair of Product Promotions and Publicity Committee – Chairman and President, Hallmark Systems, Inc., Atlanta

           Dr. John E. Simons – Coordinating Editor – Director of Townsend-McAfee Institute Graduate Studies in Church Music, Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

           Dr. Milburn Price – Editor – retired Dean, Samford University School of Performing Arts, Birmingham, Ala.

           Dr. Stanley L.  Roberts – Editor – Director of Choral Activities, Townsend School of Music, Mercer University, Macon, Ga.


Committee Chairs

           The Rev. Mark Edwards – Chair of Supplemental Music Resources Committee – Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.

           Dr. David W. Music – Chair of Text and Tunes Committee – Director of Graduate Studies, School of Music, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

           Dr. Paul A. Richardson – Chair of Format and Organization Committee – Professor of Church Music, Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.

           The Rev. Alicia W. Walker – Chair of Extra Musical Worship Resources

Committee – Associate Pastor of Music and Worship, Peachtree Baptist Church, Atlanta




Text & Tunes

           Dr. James Abbington, Associate Professor of Music and Worship, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta

           Dr. Patrick (Pat) Anderson, former Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Florida Moderator, Lakeland, Fla.

           Dr. Alan Culpepper, Dean, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta

           Ms. Carol Giesbrecht, Church Musician, Ontario, Canada

           Mrs. Joan Godsey, Church Musician, Macon, Ga.

           Dr. Bob Hatfield, Minister of Music, Dawson Memorial Church, Birmingham, Ala.

           Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Professor of Sacred Music, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

           Dr. Emmanuel McCall, Adjunct Professor, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Ga., and former Cooperative Baptist Fellowship President and Baptist World Alliance Vice President

           Dr. Clark Measels, Dean of Fine Arts and Professor of Music, Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tenn.

           The Rev. Stanley D. Pylant, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Augusta, Ga.

           Dr. Mary Alice Seals, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C.


Format & Organization

           The Rev. James E. Bennett Jr., Associate Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Aiken, S.C.

           The Rev. Stephen T. Carrell, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas

           The Rev. Tom Ingram, Music and Worship Specialist, Virginia Baptist Mission Board, Richmond, Va.

           Dr. Deborah Loftis, Professor of Church Music, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Va.

           Dr. James Meaders, Chairman, Department of Music, Mississippi College, Clinton, Miss.

           The Rev. Clark Sorrells, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Asheville, N.C.


Extra Musical Worship Resources

           The Rev. Mary Kay Beall Carter, Pastor, Tree of Life Community Church, Columbus, Ohio

           Dr. Gary Furr, Pastor, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.

           Dr. Douglas C. Jackson, Professor of Spiritual Formation, South Texas School of Christian Studies, Corpus Christi, Texas

           Dr. David Sapp, Senior Pastor, Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Atlanta

           The Rev. Tommy Shapard, Music and Worship Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Lubbock, Texas

           The Rev. Tom Willoughby, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Lawton, Okla.

           Dr. Terry York, Associate Professor of Christian Ministry and Church Music, Truett Seminary, Baylor University, Waco, Texas


Supplemental Music Resources

           Dr. Ronald Boud, Professor of Music and University Organist, Union University, Jackson, Tenn.

           The Rev. Ralph Manuel, Composer and Minister of Music, Heritage Baptist Church, Annapolis, Md.

           Mr. Joseph (Joe) Martin, Director of Sacred Music, Shawnee Press, Nashville, Tenn.

           Dr. Stan Pethel, Chair of Fine Arts, Berry College, Mt. Berry, Ga.

           The Rev. Dan Ridley, Music and Worship Team Leader, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Cary, N.C.

           The Rev. David Schwoebel, Minister of Music, Derbyshire Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.

           Dr. Douglas Smith, Hogan Professor of Church Music, School of Church Music and Worship, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

           The Rev. Richard Suggs, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Bowling Green, Ky.


Product Promotions & Publicity

           Ms. Cathy Callaway Adams, musician and Senior Vice President, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

           Dr. Raymond Bailey, Pastor, Seventh and James Baptist Church, Waco, Texas

           Mrs. Jennifer Barfield, Associate Vice President for Donor and Foundation Relations, Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

           Dr. Randy Brittain, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Athens, Ga.

           The Rev. J.C. Farrand, Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Shawnee, Okla.

           Dr. Marc A. Jolley, Director, Mercer University Press, Macon, Ga.

           Mr. Rob Hewell, Chair, Department of Church Music, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Ark.

           Ms. Judy Lunsford, Associate Vice President for University Relations and Marketing, Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

           Ms. Emily Myers, Senior Vice President for University Advancement and External Affairs, Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

           Ms. Kristy Arnesen Pullen, Associate Director, Publishing, The Alban Institute, Herndon, Va.

           The Rev. Charles Qualls, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care, Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.

           Dr. David Wilkinson, Minister of Education & Discipleship, Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas

About Mercer University:

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit