Africana Hymnal Project Film Documentary Wins Emmy


From Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church
Photo right: This is an image of the documentary DVD cover.
A documentary film tracing the history of black sacred music, produced by Discipleship Ministries as part of The Africana Hymnal Project, has received a regional Emmy for best documentary.
The film, Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music, was honored Saturday by the Midsouth Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) at the 20th Annual Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards show held in Nashville.

"The success of the Africana Hymnal Project's mission to preserve this important music for the church and the world will be forever valued and appreciated by all who are shaped by sacred music. Thanks be to God," said by Dr. Timothy L. Bias, general secretary (chief executive) of Discipleship Ministries.

Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice captures songs that blacks who were enslaved in America four centuries ago created for solace even during the most inhumane conditions, said Steve Horswill-Johnson, executive director of communications & brand strategy at Discipleship Ministries, who was the film's executive producer.      
"These songs, which are rarely sung anymore, are basically lost to the collective memory of America, but this documentary invites the viewer to see and feel how the music is being kept alive," Horswill-Johnston said. 

Narrated by Academy Award-nominated Alfre Woodard, the documentary was filmed on location at Methodist churches and institutions in Georgia, Maryland and South Carolina where the oldest living African American music is still being sung. The film features choirs, groups and soloists performing traditional Christian forms of the Ring Shout, Singing and Praying Bands, Long-Meter Hymns and Negro Spirituals.

The film, which was selected from among 72 entries in the Documentary/Cultural category, was directed by Henri Giles. Cheryl Walker, director of Black Congregational Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, was co-executive producer, and Carolyn Dandridge, communications project coordinator at Discipleship Ministries, was associate producer.

Maryland Public Television has included the documentary as part of its programming for Black History Month.

Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice, which helps connect the past, present and preserves black sacred music for generations to come, is part of The Africana Hymnal Project of The United Methodist Church. The project is a joint effort by Discipleship Ministries and The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH). For more information about the project go to

Another major part of The Africana Hymnal Project is The Africana Hymnal: Black Sacred Music, which was produced and released this week by UMPH's Abingdon Press.

The Africana Hymnal features 155 songs organized around the seasons of the year, the sacramental life of the congregation and the special days of the black church. The music selections cover multiple genres that demonstrate intergenerational connections and serves as a bridge between the music of the past, present and the future in order to encourage all of God's people to sing.

The hymnal, presented on a USB flash drive, includes sheet music, accompaniment tracks and PowerPoint lyrics for all of the songs included, along with instructional guidelines for worship use that emphasizes congregational singing, sensitivity to regional differences, and inclusion of several cultures and dialects. To order the hymnal, go to, and to order a DVD of the documentary, go to  
The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit, the Press Center at or call the Communications Office at 877-899-2780, Ext. 1726.