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Edwards, Distinguished Baptist Music Minister, Named to Staff of Hymnal

June 14, 2007

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037 or (800) 837-2911

ATLANTA — The Editorial Team of Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship named The Rev. Mark Edwards, a Baptist music minister with nearly 35 years of experience, as its primary staff member. Edwards, currently the minister of music for First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, will become the Worship Resource Manager for the new hymnal, which is a collaborative initiative of the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Church Music Studies at Mercer University and the Mercer University Press.


The appointment is effective July 1, 2007.


“The Celebrating Grace hymnal will greatly benefit from Rev. Edwards’ extensive experience in church music and his practical, yet creative ideas,” said J. Thomas McAfee III, president and chairman of Hallmark Systems, who serves as the project chair. “Having him able to provide full-time attention to the project will ensure we stay on schedule for publishing. We are fortunate to have a person of his caliber play a major role on this creative endeavor.”


Edwards will work with the Editorial Team of the Celebrating Grace Hymnal to develop worship resources incorporated into the hymnal project. Specifically, he will manage the daily work flow of the project, secure copyrights for hymns and online resources, market the hymnal and its supplemental resources, and oversee the development of musical and extra-musical web-based worship resources supporting the hymnal. The hymnal is scheduled for release in 2009, the 400th anniversary of Baptists. Broad in scope and supportive of Baptist patterns of worship, the hardbound hymnal will be published for congregational use and will offer numerous resources for worship planning.


“Mark is one of the most respected Baptist ministers of music in the United States,” said John Simons, coordinating editor of the hymnal.  “His superior musical skills, extensive experience in the publishing industry, ministerial heart, and genuine caring nature make him the perfect person for the job. We are fortunate to add his leadership to this important task.” 

“This is a chance to do something that will be an extension of my ministry, I’ve been working with hymns, the arrangement of hymns and the singing of hymns my entire ministerial career,” said Edwards, who will remain in Nashville while he works on the hymnal. “I’ve been a user of hymns, and now I’m going to be working to compile hymns. I feel lucky and honored and humbled to be a part of that process to help others in their ministry.”


Edwards has served as minister of music at the First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee since 1977, and while serving in that capacity he has made numerous contributions to the field of choral music. He has served as a choral clinician, conference leader, writer, composer and arranger of music and published two church music textbooks, two collections of hymn arrangements for congregation, and one for vocal soloists. Prior to his appointment in Nashville, he served as minister of music for youth with Ash Creek Baptist Church, in Azle, Texas, and minister of music at First Baptist Church in Natchitoches, La., from 1973 to 1977.


A former president of the Southern Baptist Church Music Conference from 1989 to 1991, Edwards served on the Baptist Hymnal Committee in 1991 and earned the distinguished service award from the Southwestern Baptist Seminary School of Music in 2003. Prior to his appointment as worship resource manager for Celebrating Grace, Edwards served as chair of the Supplemental Music Resource Committee for the hymnal project.


A native of Southwest Texas, Edwards graduated from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, with a bachelor of Church Music degree and a master of Church Music degree, respectively, with emphasis in Church Music Education. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Hymn Society of America and the Baptist Church Music Conference.


Edwards is married to his wife of 36 years, Susie Edwards, and the couple has two grown children, a daughter, Weslee Hill of Martin, Tenn., and a son, Nathan Daniel Edwards of Birmingham, Ala.


About Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship:

Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship will embrace the Baptist heritage as a practical and well-constructed church music resource for congregational worship and ministry. The hymnal is a collaborative initiative of the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Church Music Studies, Mercer University Press, and more than 50 leaders from the United States and Canada representing Baptist pastors, church musicians, composers,

scholars and laity.


The Celebrating Grace Hymnal will be broad in scope and supportive of Baptist patterns of worship. The beautifully bound hymnal will be published for congregational use, yet will provide planning and supplemental resources for church worship leaders. It will include traditional hymns, new hymns, congregational songs, scripture songs, worship readings and extensive indices. With more than 600 hymns contained in the hymnal’s pew edition, the Celebrating Grace Hymnal will be organized in a user-friendly manner, and will feature extensive worship resources on such topics as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, family, Advent, Christmas, Holy Week, Easter and many other topics identified by worship leaders as areas of need.


A treasury of worship resources will accompany the bound hymnal via online resources. The extensive Internet resource will provide worship planning tools, creative worship designs, responsive readings and litanies, as well as the history of the hymns, information on the composers and authors, and devotional interpretations of the hymn texts. Additional indices and a searchable database will be online. Professional supplemental musical arrangements, such as piano and organ arrangements, instrumental and orchestral arrangements, and choral descants and codas of varying difficulties, will be available online in a printable format for immediate purchase and download.


The Editorial Team for Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship includes John Simons, Stanley Roberts, Milburn Price, and J. Thomas McAfee.  The Committee Chairs are David Music (Texts and Tunes), Paul Richardson (Format and Organization), Alicia Walker (Extra Musical Resources), Mark Edwards (Supplemental Musical Resources), and J. Thomas McAfee (Promotion and Publicity).  For more information, please contact John Simons at or visit


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; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships 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