HYMNS ETC. - Mary Nelson Keithahn
Mary is an ordained pastor and certified church education specialist in the United Church of Christ, working now as a consultant and free-lance writer out of her home in Rapid City, South Dakota. Her experience in the parish ministry includes many years as a pastor's wife, church teacher and administrator, director of Christian education, associate pastor, choir director (children's choir, adult choir, and handbell choir), and worship arts coordinator.
Mary served as a curriculum writer for the Joint Educational Development (a consortium of up to fourteen major Protestant denominations) and its successors, writing eight courses for primary, junior, and broadly-graded levels. In addition, she has written three broadly-graded courses on Paul, David, and Moses, a study guide on Ruth, and several books on teaching methods, as well as articles for at least fifteen different denominational and ecumenical journals. As an editor, she has been responsible for such varied publications as a manual to assist Religious Program Specialists in their role of coordinating religious education in the United States Navy, a collection of resources for celebrating the Bach anniversary (Choristers Guild), and, most recently, a two-volume collection of hymn-based learning designs for children (Abingdon). She has also contributed worship resources and seasonal liturgies to other publications, and edited a collection of prayers for church choirs (Abingdon).
Mary is a Life member of both The Hymn Society and Choristers Guild, served on the Choristers Guild board of directors from 1984-1990, and the editorial board for The Chorister, the Guild's bi-monthly journal. As chair of the publications committee for the Guild, she helped develop and edited Our Heritage of Hymns, Series 1 and 2, and worked on other hymnody resources for children. She has also written numerous articles on using hymns with children for The Chorister, Church Music Workshop, Church Worship, Church Educator, and other journals. As a clinician, she has led workshops on children and worship and using hymns with children at Choristers Guild seminars and chapter meetings, the annual conference of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, the Presbyterian Music and Worship conference at Montreat (NC), and other denominational and ecumenical events. She also led an adult Bible study and taught a class on hymn-writing at the Presbyterian Music and Worship Conference at Westminster College (PA), in 2003. In recent years she has taught classes on congregational song for the West River section of the Yankton College Lay School of Theology.
In 1990 Mary and John initiated the MAD (music, art, and drama) camp at Placerville, the United Church of Christ camp near Rapid City, South Dakota. Mary was dean of the camp for thirteen years and writer in residence through 2007. John served as composer-in residence and accompanist for the camp from 1990-2007. They have written ten different musical dramas for the camp, four of which were published by Choristers Guild, Abingdon Press, and Voice of the Rockies. They have offered reproducible copies of others on this website. Mary and John have also collaborated in writing a number of anthems and over a hundred hymns. In 1998 Abingdon Press published two collections of their hymns, Come Away with Me: A Collection of New Hymns, and Time Now to Gather: New Hymns for the Church Family. A third collection, The Song Lingers On, was published by Zimbel Press in 2003. A fourth collection, Faith That Lets Us Sing, will be out from Wayne Leupold Editions in July 2016. Over a dozen hymnals, supplements, and other collections now include some of their hymns.