published Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Online Lectionary geared to black churches

Educators and musicians, such as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Roland M. Carter, are among the type of people the Rev. Martha Simmons had in mind when she created the African-American Lectionary in 2007.

The African-American Lectionary, an online resource specifically intended for black clergy, liturgists and lay people, lists songs written or arranged by Carter among its music and worship resources for annual days celebrated in most black churches.

"After mentoring quite a number of young pastors," said Simmons, an Atlanta-based United Church of Christ minister, "I realized how little material they had that would walk them through the annual days of most African-American churches."

Her subsequent investigation showed older clergy didn't have the resources either, Simmons said.

The website ( she began now is updated through the year by a core team of nine, she said, plus 30 commentary writers, 30 cultural resource contributors and 30 liturgists.

The resources listed include, among other things, books, videos, prayers, sermon pieces, magazine articles and journals.

There are more than 10,000 pages of material covering five full years and thousands of contributors to comb through, Simmons said. They cover annual days such as African Heritage Sunday, Women's Day, Justice Day, Ushers Day, Men's Day and Watch Night.

As of January, the site had received 8 million hits.

In addition to current material, some of the black religion and cultural references listed are "not the latest things off the press," she said. "[The authors may] not be the biggest names, but they're important [works]."

Carter, director of the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song and a publisher specializing in music and traditions of black composers, said his work may be found in a variety of listings.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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