Annual Conference – Leadership Bios

We are proud that our Annual Conference always features a broad array of leaders that cover many denominations, fields of study, and lived experiences. Here you can learn more about the people who will lead us this year.


Hymn Festival Leaders

James Abbington, FHS
James Abbington, currently Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta, GA, was previously a professor of music in the Department of Fine Arts at Morgan State University. Prior to his tenure in Baltimore he was Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC (1998–2003). He is also the Executive Editor of the African American Church Music Series published by GIA Publications, Inc. of Chicago and has served as co-director of the annual Hampton University Ministers’ and Musicians’ Conference since 2000.

Dr. Abbington is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, as well as a member of the Grants Advisory Board for the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, funded by the Lily Endowment.

Dr. Abbington is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where he received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and was a student of the late Dr. Wendell P. Whalum and Dr. Joyce Finch Johnson. He earned the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees in Church Music and Organ from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where he was a student of Marilyn Mason.

Dr. Abbington served as Minister of Music and Church Organist of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit from 1983–1996. He was National Director of Music for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. from 1990–1994 and National Music Director for the NAACP from 1988–1992.

He is the author of Let Mt. Zion Rejoice! Music in the African American Church (Judson Press), Readings in African American Church Music and Worship (GIA Publications, Inc.), co-author of Waiting to Go! African American Church Worship Resources from Advent through Pentecost (GIA), and Going to Wait! African American Church Worship Resources between Pentecost and Advent (GIA); he edited Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker’s Spirits that Dwell in Deep Woods: The Prayer and Praise Hymns of the Black Religious Experience (GIA), is an associate editor of the best-selling African American Heritage Hymnal (GIA) and compiled and edited New Wine In Old Wineskins: A Contemporary Congregational Song Supplement (GIA).


Donté Ford
Donté Alexander Ford is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and serves the Wheaton College community as Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Chaplain for Worship Arts. He is an alumnus of Penn State University (BA), Southern Methodist University (MSM, MM, MDiv), University of Arizona (PhD), and is best described as a musician, minister, and scholar. At Wheaton, Donté teaches Principles in Music and Worship Ministry, coaches Chapel Bands, oversees the music and worship arts offerings in Chapel worship, and serves as the director of the Worship Arts Certificate.

Donté’s many musical talents have afforded him the opportunity to serve as guest clinician/conductor, lead pianist, opera chorister, resident percussionist, and Minister of Music. His musical activities also include composing, as he is a published composer with GIA Publications, Inc. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Sankofa Chorale, a multi-ethnic choral ensemble that preserves and perpetuates African American Choral music while performing that music alongside choral masterworks of the Western European choral canon.

A Christian minister, Donté is a gifted preacher, holding ordination and ministerial credentials in the Holiness-Pentecostal and Baptist traditions, respectively. Though a life-long Pentecostal, Donté is committed to the diversity of the body of Christ. As a scholar, Donte focuses his efforts on the history and preservation of Black American concert and popular music, church hymnody, congregational song, and the history, theology, and music of African American Pentecostalism. His scholarly work includes lectures on African American choral art forms and contributions to the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and UM Discipleship Ministries’ History of Hymns.


Alisha Lola Jones
Dr. Alisha Lola Jones is an associate professor in the faculty of music at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. She is a board member of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), a member of the strategic planning task force for the American Musicological Society (AMS), and a co-chair of the Music and Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Additionally, as a performer-scholar, she consults museums, conservatories, seminaries, and arts organizations on curriculum, live and virtual event programming, and content development. Dr. Jones’ book Flaming?: The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance (Oxford University Press) breaks ground by analyzing the role of gospel music-making in constructing and renegotiating gender identity among black men. Dr. Jones’ book has been awarded: the Ruth Stone prize (SEM), Music in American Culture prize (AMS), and Philip Brett prize (AMS). She is completing two books: a gastromusicology book entitled Ultrasonic Tastemakers: A Critical Gastromusicology and Sound Our Signatures: A Womanist Approach to Music Research, which sets forth anti-oppressive ways of listening to Black women. Recently, she wrote albums notes for the GRAMMY nominated record by Carlos Simon entitled Requiem for the Enslaved (2022). Rev. Dr. Jones is a fourth-generation ordained preacher on both sides in the Word of Faith and Pentecostal traditions. A little-known fact is that Dr. Alisha Lola Jones and her sister Rev. Angela Marie Jones are co-owners of Paradise Media Group, a Black women-owned radio company with stations based in Oxford and Henderson, NC. Rev. Dr. Jones is bicontinental residing in the US and Cambridge, England with her life-partner in ministry and love, her husband Rev. Calvin Taylor Skinner.


Raymond Wise
Raymond Wise, Ph. D., a native of Baltimore, Md., began his musical career at three, singing gospel music with his family singing group “The Wise Singers.” Dr. Wise earned a B.F.A. in Music (Piano and Voice) from Denison University (Granville, Ohio). He did additional studies in Opera, Art, and German at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria, and African-American History, Music, and Dance at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California. Dr. Wise earned his Master’s and Doctorate in Music Education from The Ohio State University. 


Dr. Wise currently serves on Indiana University’s faculty in Bloomington, Indiana, as a Professor of Practice in the African American African Diaspora Studies department. In addition, he serves as the Associate Director of the African American Arts Institute, an IU division devoted to African American music and dance performance. Dr. Wise conducts the African American Choral Ensemble, recently featured in the Emmy Award Winning PBS documentary “Amen: Music of the Black Church.” He has served on The Ohio State University and Denison University faculties and is an adjunct professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary (Columbus, Ohio) and Trevecca College (Nashville, Tennessee).  


Dr. Wise is an ordained minister and has served as a church musician for more than 45 years. He has appeared on radio and television, recorded 25 albums, and performed with opera singers, orchestras, dance companies, and professional recording groups. He has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia as a singer, pianist, composer, lecturer, choreographer, and conductor for honor choirs and choral festivals. Wise has penned more than 680 compositions and received numerous commissions. His works are published by Hinshaw, GIA, Hal Leonard, MusicSpoke, Abingdon Press, and the United Methodist Publishing House. His Anthology of 21 Spirituals for the 21st Century has received national and international acclaim. 


Wise is the founder and President of Raise Productions’ Center for the Gospel Arts, a gospel music production and publishing company in Columbus, Ohio, established to provide educational training and resources for gospel artists and the community. He served as the Director of the Hampton University Minister’s Conference Choir Directors’ and Organists’ Guild and Academy, which provides intensive training in African American sacred music for church musicians. He has also served as a member of the academic faculty for the Gospel Music Workshop of America for 35 years. Dr. Wise served as the Ethnic and American music Repertoire and Standards Chair for the American Choral Director’s Association Central Division (ACDA). His knowledge of the gospel and classical music genres has enabled him to serve as a consultant and clinician in academic and gospel music settings. Wise is known for helping choirs perform gospel music authentically.



Plenary Speakers

James Abbington, FHS
Please see bio under Hymn Festival Leaders

Alisha Lola Jones
Please see bio under Hymn Festival Leaders


Khalia Williams
Prior to joining the faculty at Candler, the Rev. Dr. Khalia J. Williams earned her MA in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and her PhD in Liturgical Studies with a focus on theology and worship from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and American Baptist Churches USA.

A native of Los Angeles, Williams has lectured widely and serves as board member for L’Arche Atlanta and the Higher Education and Leadership Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She has served as the chapel coordinator at Columbia Theological Seminary and on the worship planning and chapel leadership team at the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, and currently serves as an associate minister at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta.



Morning Prayers Leaders

Stephanie Budwey
Stephanie A. Budwey is the Luce Dean’s Faculty Fellow Assistant Professor of the History and Practice of Christian Worship and the Arts and Director of the Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture Program. Her teaching and research focus on the relationships between social justice issues, liturgy, and the arts. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she worked on a post-doctoral project at the Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel in Germany entitled “Letting the Entire Body of Christ Speak: Practical Theological Reflections on Intersex Christian Narratives.” This research is the foundation for her book Religion and Intersex: Perspectives from Science, Law, Culture, and Theology which is published as part of the Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies series.

Originally from Boston, MA, Budwey completed her Th.D. at the Boston University School of Theology in 2012 in liturgical studies and church music. Her dissertation on Marian hymnody was published in 2014 by Liturgical Press as Sing of Mary: Giving Voice to Marian Theology and Devotion. Budwey has presented lectures and papers throughout North America and Europe, and she has articles and book chapters published on such topics as intersex and theologyMarian hymnodyqueer hymnody, and Wilgefortis.

A member of the Episcopal Church, she comes to Vanderbilt with many years of practical experience having worked in churches of various denominations and contexts as an organist and choir director. She currently serves as Organist/Parish Musician at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Nashville.


Kai Ton Chau
Kai Ton Chau is a Program Manager at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, leading curriculum development in cultural competency. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Calvin University and associate editor of the Reformed Worship journal. He holds a doctorate in worship from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies and master’s degrees in music (choral) and business (MBA). Kai Ton has a professional background in accounting, finance, and taxation. His research interest is in developing a pastoral mindset for worship leaders.


Charles Frost
Charles D. Frost is a native of Red Bank, New Jersey. He began his music studies at an early age. He began playing the organ in churches and directing choirs as a sophomore in high school. Frost attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he received both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Church Music. His organ studies were with Dr. Joan Lippincott, retired head of the organ department and world renowned concert and recording artist. As a graduate student, he was the teacher of all of the organ minors. He studied conducting with the late Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt, Head of Choral Activities and conductor of the famed Westminster Choir. He resides in Beaufort, South Carolina. Frost has served as Minister of Music in churches in California, Long Island, New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2018 he retired as Minister of Music at Sea Island Presbyterian Church in Beaufort, South Carolina where he served for sixteen years. In May, 2023, he retired as the organist at First Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina after five years. Frost is active as an organ recitalist and workshop clinician. He is a member of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians(PAM) and The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada where he is President Elect. He was a member of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song(PCOCS) which developed Glory to God, the most recent Presbyterian Hymnal. He is conductor of the Sea Island Chamber Singers, an auditioned choir in the Beaufort community.


Featured Session Leaders

Scot Crandal
Scot Crandal is a gifted composer, singer and musician. Director of music at the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Baptist in Portland, Oregon, Scot has also worked at OCP for several years, both as a music editor and music development coordinator, in charge of submission and arranging. He earned his music degree from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, and was a music teacher in public schools for several years. In addition to writing songs for the liturgy, Scot composes and performs jazz, classical and popular music. He plays guitar and piano, and has showcased his strong tenor voice in several Portland Opera productions.


Estela García-López
Estela García-López has been serving in music ministry for over 35 years as a pastoral musician and composer committed to enhancing liturgical experiences through music. Alongside her husband, Rodolfo, she has contributed to bilingual liturgical music with collections like “Brille Tu Luz”, “Cristo No Tiene Pies en el Mundo,” and “Misa Santa Cecilia.”  Currently serving as Spanish Language Music Publishing Manager at OCP and Spanish Music Director at Ascension Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon, García-López continues to inspire through her ministry and compositions.


Dollie Howell Pankey
Dollie Howell Pankey has engaged in a blend of pastoral leadership and music ministry leadership for almost forty years. The vantage point from which she views congregational singing and community engagement is undergirded by a curious spirit that chases down rabbit holes leading to new lines of inquiry.

A clergy member in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Dollie has been a pastor, college educator, chaplain, and theological reflection group facilitator. Across more than 40 years, she has made impressive contributions as a vocalist, worship leader, conference musician, music educator, and as a workshop facilitator specializing in Christian worship, choral enhancement, congregational singing, spiritual formation, and grief and loss. She is in the writing phase of the Doctor of Pastoral Music program at Perkins School of Theology.

In her life as a singer-songwriter, Dollie’s alter ego is D’ Marie. Through performances and recordings (H20 and to be continued…), D’ Marie creates memorable moments through presence, word, and song. Social activism is in her blood and has led Dollie to be active in social justice locally and nationally. This includes her work as State Theomusicologist for the Alabama Poor People’s Campaign, where she lifts the movement through music. She is enthusiastic about engaging people in ongoing social action as a faithful witness to God’s love and concern for “the least of these.”


Special Event Leader

Brandon Wason
Brandon Wason has a bachelor’s degree in Classics (2006, California State University, Long Beach), a Master of Theological Studies (2009, Emory University), and a PhD in New Testament (2017, Emory University). Brandon is Head of Special Collections at Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, where he has worked since 2015. He has curated exhibitions on early printed books (incunabula), evangelicalism, and Methodist history.  


Organ Recitalist

Viktor Billa
Viktor Billa is a Ukrainian concert organist. In 2011 he graduated from the Petro Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine in Kyiv with a master’s degree in organ performance. Viktor’s training and performance career developed rapidly. Immediately following graduation, he was appointed as an organist in residence of the Chernivtsi Philharmonic Hall. He traveled throughout Ukraine performing concerts, appearing as a soloist, and collaborating with different choirs or orchestras. As an aspiring organist, Viktor has studied in masterclasses and workshops with many of this generation’s most influential organists, such as Heribert Metzger (Austria), James Kibbie (United States), Olivier Latry (France), and others. In 2015 Viktor was appointed as an organist at Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, Florida. He enjoys introducing the organ in concert repertoire and as a part of worship services. In 2017 Viktor released his CD Bach at Trinity, recorded at the Casavant Frères organ. A recent highlight in his performance career was performing a solo recital in the Tabernacle organ Virtuoso Performance series on the Tabernacle Organ at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Viktor is currently studying for his doctoral degree in organ performance at Florida State University with Dr. Iain Quinn. He continues to serve as an organist at Trinity United Methodist Church. For Viktor, “music is a prayer without words.”


Organ Institute Director

Nathaniel Gumbs
Nathaniel Gumbs is a native of the Bronx, NY and has performed throughout the United States and abroad, including Antigua, St. Thomas, Ghana, Paris, and Munich, and is consistently gathering new fans and followers.  The New York Times described Nathaniel’s playing in their review of his recording with bass-baritone Dashon Burton, as “mature, lyrical, accurate and energetic,” and that his performance was presented “deftly and with feeling.”

Dr. Gumbs currently serves as Director of Chapel Music at Yale University where he works with students, faculty, and guests to coordinate music for three worshiping communities: the University Church in Battell Chapel, and at Yale Divinity School in both Marquand Chapel and at Berkeley Divinity School.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia, his Master of Music degree from Yale University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music.  Nathaniel’s principal teachers include Steven Cooksey, David Higgs, and Martin Jean.

Prior to his position at Yale, Dr. Gumbs served as Director of Music and Arts and Church Organist at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, where he led several hundred volunteer musicians and staff in four choirs and other ensembles.  Nathaniel currently serves as the Interim Minister of Music and Fine Arts at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY.

In 2017 The Diapason magazine recognized Nathaniel as one of 20 outstanding organists under 30 years old for his achievement in organ performance and church music.  In 2018, Nathaniel curated the opening Hymn Festival (Singing Diverse Music in The New Church) for the Hymn Society’s annual conference.  He is also featured on various recording projects through GIA publications with James Abbington, choral projects with award winning conductor Jason Max Ferdinand, and recordings of revised choral works by Margaret Bonds with NY Philharmonic’s Chorus Director, Malcolm Merriweather.  Most recently, Dr. Gumbs is a contributing composer in Pulling Out The Stops, Volume 3, Congregational Song Accompaniments for Organ, published by Augsburg Fortress.


Sectional Leaders

Emily Andrews
Emily Snider Andrews is Assistant Professor of Church Music and Worship Leadership and Executive Director of the Center for Worship and the Arts at Samford University. She believes worship lies at the heart of what it means to be a Christian disciple and seeks to enable Christ’s church to worship with godly wisdom and Spirit-led imagination. An ordained minister, Emily has served congregations in Alabama, Texas, and California. As a liturgical theologian, she is especially interested in the interlacing of music and theology, focusing her research on evangelical worship, sacramental theology, and modern worship music practices.


John Allen Bankson
John Allen T. Bankson is a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA) as well as a musician, composer/arranger, and conductor. A native of Birmingham, AL, he eared his B.Mus. (Voice) from Samford University, M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary, M.Mus. (Conducting) from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he studied conducting with William Weinert, Organ with Paul Andersen, and Composition with Luigi Zaninelli. He is currently the Director of Music Ministries at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Birmingham. He is the author of numerous journal articles as well as two books and several works of choral music. John Allen is the proud father of six children, ranging in age from 17 to 28.


Jane Best
Jane Best lives on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario, Canada, where she directs a community choir and leads worship in the Island Community Church. She grew up in Kingston and Toronto, sang in a children’s church choir, studied piano through the Royal Conservatory, and later studied music at the University of Toronto. Since moving to this rural community in 1989 she has taught private music lessons, directed children’s and adult choirs, volunteered as a Girl Guide leader and a Scout leader, and led worship in 3 different congregations. Jane served on the board of the Summer Institute of Music for a number of years, and enjoys attending Hymn Society events when she can. Several of her choir pieces have been published, and her hymns have appeared in various collections including her previous volume, Flowing Spirit, published by Wayne Leupold Editions.


David Bjorlin
David Bjorlin was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and earned his PhD in History and Hermeneutics (Liturgical Studies) at Boston University School of Theology in 2018. He is a Teaching Fellow in Music and Worship at North Park University and the Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts at Resurrection Covenant Church in Chicago. He has co-authored one book (Incorporating Children in Worship: Mark of the Kingdom) and written several journal articles on the history and practice of congregational song. His first book of hymns, Protest of Praise, was released in 2020 by GIA.


Conie Borchardt
Conie Borchardt (she/they) is currently on the staff of Music that Makes Community, where they are delighted to practice communal song-sharing to inspire culture participation and creation. As a freelance Public Heart Artist, Conie listens and moves from the confluences of the past, present, and not yet; Asian-European ancestry; and the Misi-ziibi and Mni’sota Rivers with training in music, Dances of Universal Peace, and spiritual direction. Conie has 30+ years of church music experience in Lutheran, Episcopal and UCC congregations.


Wally Brath
Growing up in LaPorte, IN, Wally was interested in all things musical. In 1990, he attended the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music to study jazz piano. There he met his wife, Shana, and they have been making beautiful music together ever since. Wally has served as a worship pastor in some of the most influential churches in the United States, including Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper, Minneapolis, MN) and Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL). While at Bethlehem Baptist Church, he had the privilege to help plant two churches through the Treasuring Christ Together initiative.

Dr. Brath has traveled internationally as worship leader, musician, and educator. After earning a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, he earned a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology from Liberty University, and a Doctorate in Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. Dr. Brath is a member of Society of Ethnomusicologists (SEM) and the International Council of Ethnodoxologists (ICE).

In 2016, Dr. Brath was given the opportunity to create and launch the worship arts program at Grace College and Seminary where he currently teaches. Wally and Shana Brath live in Warsaw, Indiana with their 3 children, frequently performing together in church and the community.


Benjamin Brody
Benjamin Brody serves as Chair of the Music Department, Professor of Music and Director of Church Music Studies at Whitworth University, where he teaches courses in church music, music history, and choral literature, and serves as Director of Campus Worship. A life member of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, Ben is currently serving as Immediate Past President, and convened the working group that produced Singing Welcome: Songs and Hymns for Refugees and Immigrants (2017). Ben’s tunes have been featured in several collections, including GIA’s Come, O Holy House, and Worship!, which contains fifty of his compositions.


Hannah Brown
Hannah C. Brown has served as Pastor at West Concord Union Church United Church of Christ in Concord, Massachusetts, since 2009. Her interest in cultivating worship experiences that are heart-centered, interactive, and accessible has led to exciting experimentation and deep personal learning. Her growing fascination with many forms of congregational song grew into a more intentional study of hymn writing in 2022, which has quickly borne fruit with publication through GIA’s Unbound platform and a forthcoming collection of her texts.
Rev. Brown has served the wider UCC on the board of the 2030 Clergy Network and on the board of the Massachusetts Conference through its transition into the Southern New England Conference. She is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary (NYC) and of Carleton College.


James Hart Brumm
James Hart Brumm is director of the Reformed Church Center and the Theological Writing Center at New Brunswick (NJ) Theological Seminary and general editor of The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America. He has taught church history, liturgy, and congregational song across North America since 1995 and has been Book Review Editor for The Hymn and a pastor for four congregations.

James holds degrees from Westminster Choir College, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Drew University. He has written articles for The Hymn, Reformed Worship, the Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland and other journals. He’s written five previous volumes of hymns (all published by The Leupold Foundation), authored of Singing the Lord’s Song: A History of English-Language Hymnals of the Reformed Church in America (RCA Historical Society, 1990) and is author or editor of ten other books. He contributed to Sing! A New Creation (CRC Publications, 2001), and the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology (Canterbury Press, 2013).

James is married to Kathleen Hart Brumm, a pastor, children’s choir clinician, author, composer, and educator. They have two grandsons, Isaiah and Calvin, and live in Highland Park, New Jersey, with their dog, Pepper.


Kai Ton Chau
Please see bio under Morning Prayer Leaders


Nelson Cowan
Nelson Cowan, director of the Center for Worship and the Arts at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, is a liturgical theologian, worship leader, and ordained elder in The United Methodist Church.


Scot Crandal
Please see bio under Featured Session Leaders


Hilary Seraph Donaldson
Hilary Seraph Donaldson is a musician, worship leader, and writer based in Toronto. She currently serves as President of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and is Director of Music at St. Andrew’s United Church, Toronto. Hilary’s doctoral research is focussed on the intersection of English musical modernism and the sacred in the music of Benjamin Britten. Her other areas of interest include music since 1900, the BBC, intersections in music and theology, and hymnology and congregational singing. Hilary has led adult, youth, and children’s choirs in both Toronto and Dallas, and has a passion for church leadership, congregational song, and the pulse of worship.


Frank Fortunato
Rev. Dr. Frank Fortunato has served in music ministry his entire lifetime. After several years teaching music courses in Bible colleges in the Midwest he began ministry with Operation Mobilization serving as a music missionary for many years on board the two mission ships of Operation Mobilization, the Logos and Doulos. Following his time on board Frank completed a masters in ethnomusicology and a doctorate in worship studies. Frank co-founded Heart Sounds International, a ministry promoting indigenous worship through seminars, songwriting events, and recording of non-western worship mostly in the restricted parts of the world. Frank also networks with various missions agencies promoting music and arts as part of evangelism and church planting efforts, particularly in oral cultures. Based at the OM USA headquarters in Atlanta, Frank currently serves as OM’s International Worship Consultant. He recently co-authored All the World is Singing—Glorifying God through the worship music of the nations. Frank’s wife Berit comes from Sweden. The Fortunatos have two grown children, two adopted children from India, and four grandchildren.


Katie Graber
Katie Graber is an ethnomusicologist who studies race and ethnicity in a variety of contexts, including Mennonite music, American music and European opera. She teaches classes on Western music history and world music at the Ohio State University, and leads singing at her church in Columbus, Ohio. She chaired the Intercultural Worship committee for the Voices Together project, and currently co-directs the Anabaptist Worship Network and serves as a member of the leadership team.


Will Groenendyk
Will has been with for over a decade and currently serves as an associate director. He has a background in computer science and web development and is passionate about digital technologies that benefit the Church.


Bruce Harding


Rylan André Harris
Minister Rylan André Harris is Director of Chapel Music at the Columbia Theological Seminary and Minister of Worship and Arts at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Harris is pursuing a Master of Religious Leadership with a concentration in Music and Worship at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He is a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia and remains active with the Hampton Ministers Conference. Harris is associate editor of the forthcoming Soul Echoes No. 2 (1909): A Scholarly Edition (under contract with UNC Press in the Sounding Spirit series).


Lisa Hancock


M. Roger Holland, II
M. Roger Holland, II is a Teaching Associate Professor in Music and Religion and Director of The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he received the Master of Divinity degree, Roger also served as Artist-in-Residence and director of the Union Gospel Choir for over 13 years. In 2015 Union awarded him the Trailblazers Distinguished Alumni Award, the first given to a graduate whose ministry is music, for his contributions to the legacy of African American music. He received a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, also in New York, and completed his undergraduate work at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he majored in Music Education with a concentration in piano and voice.

Roger is the newly appointed editor of the In Spirit and Truth series published by GIA Publications, Inc., which reflects the aesthetic of Black Catholic worship. In addition, he serves as Liturgical Music Consultant for the Archdiocese of New York Office of Black Ministry and Music Director for their special masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Commissioned works include The Dream and The Dreamer, The Tribulation Suite, The Call, and concert settings of Agnus Dei and Magnificat. Original music collections published by GIA include “Building Up the Kingdom,” featuring the single “Worthy God,” and his recent collection, “Honey from the Rock, Vol. 1 – 4.” He has played for the Broadway productions of Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple and the Tony award winning show, Memphis. In November 2016 Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York presented Roger with the Pierre Toussaint Medal for service.


Sara Snyder Hopkins
Sara Snyder Hopkins, PhD., is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology and Director of the Cherokee Language Program at Western Carolina University. She received a PhD in Music (Ethnomusicology) from Columbia University in 2016 with coursework in linguistic anthropology at NYU. Hopkins is the editor for the forthcoming Cherokee Singing Book (1846): A Scholarly Edition (under contract with UNC Press in the Sounding Spirit series). She is also the Project Director for Eastern Cherokee Histories in Translation (ECHT), which has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Heisse Historical Preservation Fund, and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. Hopkins co-directs the Cherokee Language Repertory Choir. Prior to working at WCU, she worked for five years as the music and arts teacher for New Kituwah Academy, the Cherokee language immersion school for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.


Doe Hoyer
Doe Hoyer (they/them) is an organizer and songleader with the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery, and coordinates the Repair Network. They have lived on Dakota homelands for most of their life, and are involved locally with the Twin Cities Repair Community for Makoce Ikikcupi (Dakota land recovery). Doe was raised Lutheran, but their spirituality is authentically Earth-based, which calls them into solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Doe is working on completing their Master’s of Divinity in Interreligious Chaplaincy and Social Transformation.


Chan Gyu Jang
Chan Gyu Jang is a Resource Development Specialist for web-based liturgical resources at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and is Director of Music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church. He is a graduate of Calvin University (Music Theory and Psychology) and Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He holds a Certificate in Editing from the University of Chicago Graham School and is currently finishing his Master of Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. Chan loves enjoying coffee with cheesecake, reading historical fiction, and playing and watching soccer.


Jesse P. Karlsberg
Jesse P. Karlsberg, PhD, is Senior Digital Scholarship Strategist at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) and associated faculty in the Department of Music at Emory University. His work examines race and place in southern hymn singing cultures. Jesse is director of Sounding Spirit Collaborative, a National Endowment for the Humanities–funded series of historical sacred music editions and collections co-published by ECDS and the University of North Carolina Press. Jesse is editor of the forthcoming Sacred Tunes and Hymns (1913): A Scholarly Edition, a digital and print edition of a genre-spanning shape-note tunebook (under contract with UNC Press). An internationally renowned Sacred Harp singer, teacher, and composer, Jesse has led shape-note singing schools and hymn singings at Festival Oudiemuziek Utrecht, the Georgia Roots Music Festival, the Jarosław Song of Our Roots Early Music Festival, the Ascending Voice Symposium, the American Theological Library Association, the Society for American Music, the Music Library Association, the Camp Fasola Singing School, and at numerous Sacred Harp conventions across Europe and North America. Jesse is a member of The Sacred Harp tunebook revision committee, vice president of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, and research director of the Sacred Harp Museum.


Karol Kimmell
Director of Children and Youth Choirs, All Saints’ Episcopal, Atlanta, GA since 1998, directing singers grades PreK – 12 and ringers grades 3 – 12, in four choral and two handbell choirs. Co-Director, Lutheridge Summer Music Week, Arden, NC and Co-Director and faculty member, Choristers Guild Institute, Richmond, VA. Attended Wittenberg University and Lenoir-Rhyne University, receiving a bachelors degree in Music Education (organ), from L-RU. Continued studies with Orff Schulwerk, KinderMusic, Rhythmically Moving, voice at Mannes School of Music/NYC, and member of Riverside Church Choir/NYC, and the Atlanta Bach Choir and Baroque Camarati/Atlanta. Clinician and presenter at music conferences for different organizations (ACDA, ALCM, Westminster’s Kemp Symposium, National Conference for Sacred Music) and denominations (Lake Junaluska, Massannetta Springs, Lutheridge), choral festivals (NC All State Elementary Chorus, Los Angeles/Orange County CG Festivals, Virginia Baptist All State Elementary Choirs, Mabel Boyter Choir Camp) and music publishers (Choristers Guild, Augsburg Fortress).


Lim Swee Hong, FHS
Dr. Lim, Swee Hong is the Deer Park Associate Professor of Sacred Music at Emmanuel College, and the Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program. Before joining Emmanuel Swee Hong served as an Assistant Professor of Church Music at Baylor University, Texas and as a Lecturer of Worship, Liturgy, and Music at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. Swee Hong is widely utilized as a leader for global seminars and conferences dealing with worship and sacred music. He served as the Director of Music for the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches convened in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2022, and the Director of Research for the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (2014 -2020). In 2013 he served as the Co-Moderator of the Worship Committee for the 10th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches for its meeting in Busan, South Korea and was a member of the Worship Planning Committee for the 2011 Ecumenical Peace Convocation sponsored by the World Council held in Jamaica. From 2006 – 2011, he chaired the Committee on Worship and Liturgy for the World Methodist Council, designed and supervised the worship services of the 20th World Methodist Conference in Durban, South Africa.


Jeannette (Jan) Lindholm
Writer of the familiar Advent hymn “Unexpected and Mysterious,” Jeannette (Jan) Lindholm is professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, where she teaches courses in writing, literature, and rhetorical theory. Lindholm’s hymns appear in a variety of hymnals and supplements, including Evangelical Lutheran Worship; Voices Found: Women in the Church’s Song; Voices Together; All Creation Sings; and Songs for the Holy Other: Hymns Affirming the LGBTQIA2S+ Community. Her collection of hymns, Love Astounding: Hymns of Jeannette M. Lindholm, was published in 2023 with Augsburg Fortress. Lindholm received her BA in German and English from Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), MA in English Language and Literature from Indiana University, PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Minnesota, and MTS from Boston University School of Theology, where she studied hymn writing with Carl P. Daw, Jr.


Jorge Lockward
Jorge Lockward served for many years as Director of the Global Praise Program of the General Board of Global Ministries where he edited resources on global music and worship. As part of that work he developed innovative ways to plan and engage worship that responds to the opportunities and challenges of today’s world while engaging the depth of Christian tradition in its multiple global manifestations.

He has coordinated the worship life of many national and international gatherings, including the 21st. World Methodist Conference (2016) and the 2018 World Mission Conference in Arusha, Tanzania.

A respected lecturer and workshop leader, Jorge is a life-member of The Hymn Society of the United States and Canada.

Jorge serves as Minister of Worship Arts at The Church of the Village in New York City.


Catherine MacLean
Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean is lead for the Education, Justice, and Ethos subcommittee of the Then Let Us Sing! hymn resource project. She has served United Church of Canada congregations and seminaries across the country: East Coast, Rocky Mountains, Northwest Territories, Toronto, and Edmonton. Catherine has published voluminously in the areas of theology and preaching, is a Past President of the Canadian Theological Society and a delegate to the recent World Council of Churches Assembly. She also is a Guinness Book Official Witness for the Biggest Dodgeball Game in the World.


Lloyd MacLean
An experienced music leader, Lloyd leads choirs in two faith communities in rural Nova Scotia. He has a passion for congregational song and believes firmly that communal singing strengthens and edifies faith communities, bridging gaps in age groups and cultural differences. More than counter-cultural, he sees this work as prophetic.


Kenneth Medema
Ken Medema is one of the most creative and authentic artists performing today. He is a Christ follower with a passion for social justice. Uniquely, he is also blind. Ken has been visually impaired since birth. His sight has been limited to distinguishing between light and darkness and seeing fuzzy outlines of large objects. “I spent a lot of time by myself as a kid. Because I lived with some degree of being an outsider all my life, I identify with people who have been disenfranchised, whether they have been isolated, disabled, or oppressed.” Ken shares, “for me, music made all the difference. I started banging on the piano when I was five years old, making up crazy little pieces on my mom’s piano. When I was eight years old my parents found me a wonderful teacher who taught me the classics with Braille music and encouraged me to play by ear. My teacher helped me to develop improvisation skills. Every time I learned a new piece, she would tell me, ‘Now, you improvise in that style.’ So, music became a second language.”

After graduating from high school Ken studied music therapy at Michigan State University and obtained both an undergraduate and masters degree. After college, Ken worked as a music therapist. During his time he counseled teens. Ken shares, “I had a bunch of teenagers who were really hurting,” he says, “and I started writing songs about their lives. Then I thought, ‘Why don’t you start writing songs about your Christian life?’ So I started doing that, and people really responded.” In 1973 he decided to begin a career as a performing and recording artist. He recorded albums for Word and Shawnee Press; then, in 1985 founded Brier Patch Music.

For five decades, he has used music as a vehicle for creating conversation through storytelling and reflection. Today he performs in a variety of venues. Including local congregations, charity fundraisers, high schools, university campuses, church youth gatherings, televised religious programs, corporate conventions, annual assemblies of national organizations, and more. Ken custom designs each performance, integrating new and old music with his gift of improvisation to suit the occasion. With an ever-growing circle of friends around the world, Ken’s vocal and piano artistry and imagination have reached audiences of 50 to 50,000 in 49 United States and in more than 15 countries on four continents. Ken is a team player…loves working with event planners, spiritual leaders, teachers, and other artists.

Ken has been married to his wife, Jane, since 1965. They live in the San Francisco Bay area of California and have two married children and four grandchildren.


Patrick Michaels

Patrick Michaels is a gifted author and composer of a large number of hymn texts and tunes. His published hymns are found in hymnals in the U.S. and Canada, and in Australia: Community of Christ Sings (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), Common Praise (Canadian Anglican), Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ), Together in Song (Australian), Voices United (The United Church of Canada); in hymnal supplements: Sing a New Creation (Canadian Anglican), All Creation Sings (ELCA), Voices Found and My Heart Sings Out and The Dallas Hymnary (Episcopal Church); in various one-author collections; and in online collections with GIA (Unbound) and Hope Publishing, and Selah Publishing.

Collections of his tunes and texts include: From Depths of Love (2015), Dream in the Daylight (2022), As the Night Wind Blows (2023) (all Leupold Editions,Inc.); and The Circles of Our Love (2022) (Selah Publishing). His latest collection, Till Love Achieves What Hope Demands (2024), features both his original texts and tunes.

A church musician for nearly 50 years including 40 years as Minister of Music at St. James’s Episcopal Church, Cambridge, MA., he has led the community in a vibrant and innovative music program. He began the Psalm Composing Project in 1984 which encourages and supports congregational members in composing musical Psalm settings for their own use. As Director of Chapel Music at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge from 2004-2012, he helped expand the repertoire of the community and encouraged music-making from all members of the community.

Michaels was born in Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota where he studied music with a focus on Piano Performance. He is married to the Rev. Laurie A. Rofinot, and they have one adult daughter, Marian Rose. They live in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Barbara Day Miller
Associate Dean of Worship and Music/Assoc Professor of Liturgical Practice and Music, emerita, Candler School of Theology
Most recent publications: “Amen. Alleluia!, A Resource for Praying Farewell” (GIA, 2022); editor, “I’ll Sing On: My First 96 Years”, Carlton R. Young (GIA, 2022)
United Methodist Deacon, retired. Leader/director of music for multiple national UM events.


Maria Monteiro
Maria Monteiro serves as Lecturer in Church Music at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and as music director at Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana (First Mexican Baptist Church), in San Antonio. Before joining the Baylor faculty, she taught for seventeen years at Baptist University of the Américas, also in San Antonio. These roles and activities have provided the essential connection between her academic interest in church music and the practical involvement in the musical life of a present-day congregation. Maria holds a Master of Music (1991) and a Bachelor of Music (1987) degrees in Music History and Literature, and a Ph.D. in Church Music (2021), all from Baylor University.


Adam Perez
Adam A. Perez is assistant professor of worship studies at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, USA. He holds a doctorate in liturgical studies from Duke University Divinity School and a masters in religion and music from Yale Institute of Sacred Muisc. His research focuses on the history and theology of contemporary praise and worship, including music.


Harry Plantinga
Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI) and is the director and co-founder of, a comprehensive online resource for hymnody and congregational song. In addition to, he founded the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (, the first major online repository of Christian texts and literature. With a unique blend of theological insight, creative vision, and deep expertise in computer science, Harry has an exceptional ability to leverage technology for the benefit of many: his digital projects provide unprecedented access to the church’s musical heritage and theological writings, equipping scholars, musicians, and congregants worldwide with powerful tools for study, worship, and spiritual enrichment.


Amanda Powell
Amanda is a pioneering artist in the global movement that breaks down musical walls and creates art outside the boxes of conventional genres. While Amanda enjoys a diverse career that includes baroque, classical, folk, jazz and global music performance, she thrives at the crossroads of genre. At home on the opera stage, in the jazz club and in the national church arena, Amanda creates intense connections with her audiences through her unique style of invitation, expression, and story-telling.


Iteke Prins
Iteke Prins is a long-time member of The Hymn Society, who has composed hundreds of new hymn tunes, many of which are published by The Leupold Foundation or its successor, Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.


Diana Sanchez-Bushong
Diana Sanchez-Bushong is the Executive Director of Worship Ministries and Director of Music Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, an agency of the United Methodist Church.  She earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Southern Methodist University, a Master of Sacred Music degree from Perkins School of Theology at SMU, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas Austin. She has served in several churches and at the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship, where she worked with the Hymnal Revision Committee to develop The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989. In addition, Dr. Sanchez-Bushong helped develop the 1992 United Methodist Book of Worship, and Mil Voces para Celebrar, 1996, an official UM hymnal for Spanish-speaking churches. She served as the Volume Editor for The Hymns of the United Methodist Hymnal (Abingdon, 1989) and authored Your Ministry of Planning and Leading Hymn Festivals (Discipleship Resources, 1990). Most recently she has served on the editorial team for a new Spanish language worship resource, Fiesta Jubilosa (Abingdon, 2022) and she was also a contributor to the resource, “Forming Disciples Through Worship” (Discipleship Ministries, 2020). She has written extensively on hymnody and music in worship, including the article “Latin American Hymnody, USA” in the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology.  Dr. Sanchez-Bushong also enjoys teaching and has taught the course “Culto de Adoracion y los Sacramentos” for the Course of Study Program for local pastors and she is also an adjunct professor at Belmont University in the College of Theology and Christian Ministry.


Garrett Scholberg
Garrett Scholberg is a music and art teacher at ᎠᏤ ᎩᏚᏩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ (New Kituwah Academy), a Cherokee-language school, and a co-director of the Cherokee Language Repertory Choir. Scholberg also works as a singer and handbell director in Asheville, North Carolina. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas in Denton.


Darnell St. Romain
Darnell Allen St. Romain is a published author, scholar, and organist. He is currently the Associate Director of Liturgical Music at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Plano, TX. St. Romain has several articles published in The Hymn and The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. His research interests include studying the effects of singing Spirituals in mainly Caucasian congregations. St. Romain is a candidate for the Doctor of Pastoral Music Degree at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and he holds degrees in organ performance and sacred music from Louisiana State University and Southern Methodist University. He has studied organ with Herndon Spillman and Larry Palmer.


Darrell St. Romain
Darrell Anthony St. Romain is a published author, scholar, and organist. St. Romain is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Pastoral Music degree at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He has served congregations as organist and Director of Music in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. St. Romain has published articles in The Hymn and The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. His research interests include promoting Black Catholic Congregational Song and Inculturation, especially the engagement of multilingual and multiethnic worship services. He holds degrees in organ performance and sacred music from Louisiana State University and Southern Methodist University; primarily studying organ with Herndon Spillman and Larry Palmer.


Marcell Silva Steuernagel
Marcell Silva Steuernagel is Assistant Professor of Church Music and director of the Master of Sacred Music program at Southern Methodist University. He served as Minister of Worship, Arts and Communication at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Curitiba, Brazil, for more than a decade and is an internationally active composer and performer. He has released pop-rock albums, premiered choral and orchestral compositions in churches and universities, and edited hymnals. Marcell writes at the intersection of church music, theology, musicology and performance theory, both in Portuguese and English. His most recent monograph is Church Music Through the Lens of Performance, published on Routledge’s Congregational Music Studies series (2021).


Tina Schneider
Tina is the library director at The Ohio State University at Lima, and a Professor with Ohio State University Libraries. She served as the Director of Research for The Hymn Society from 2008 to 2014, and has served on the editorial board for since 2009.


Tonya Taylor-Dorsey
Tonya Maria Taylor-Dorsey is currently the choir director of the Philadelphia Catholic Gospel Mass Choir, Archdiocese of Philadelphia – Office for Black Catholics. She is Minister of Music at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in North Philadelphia where she oversees two choirs. Most known for her work as a musical director and composer, Tonya’s musical compositions have been performed at various venues, including Juilliard, the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts (Philadelphia), Rutgers University (New Jersey), the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe (Orlando), and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, DC). Tonya is noted for creating the musical score for the stage play, ManShop that debuted on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts. She has held workshops and webinars on such subjects as, The Importance of Reading Music, Increasing the Music Ministry, and Music in the Catholic Church from an African American and Hispanic Perspective. Her philanthropic endeavors include creating the Tonya Dorsey and New Vision Foundation that provided scholarships in the performing arts to over 160 school-aged children, from 2008 to 2020. Tonya serves as a Commissioner on the Beverly Housing Authority Board (NJ); is a board member on the Women’s Sacred Music Project; is an “Associate Member” of the Liturgical Composers Forum; and, an associate member of the National Black Sisters’ Conference. Tonya was the first woman to serve as Musical Director of the 12th National Black Catholic Congress. Tonya considers herself finally “free” to give the music ministry all of her time since retiring from state government after serving 25 years as a grants manager. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and resides in New Jersey with her family. For more about Tonya visit her website:


Adam Wood
Adam is a composer, songwriter, hymnist, cantor, former parish music director, and current parish praise band member with experience across a wide variety of Christian musical styles and traditions. He currently lives in Sunnyvale, California (Silicon Valley) with his wife, the Rev. Nikky Wood, and their two children.