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Worship during Cedarville chapel

CU worship program announces annual songwriting competition

by Natalia Kirychuk, Public Relations Writer

This winter, Cedarville students are once again encouraged to break out their Bibles, pencils and sheet music to enter the annual songwriting competition, open until February 15. Winners will be announced at the  Department of Music and Worship's annual hymn sing, on April 18 at noon in the Dixon Ministry Center Recital Hall.

Students may submit congregational worship songs that fall into one of three general categories: psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The top 10 selections will be sent to professional adjudicators who will choose the three winners for the competition.

The worship department sought out a panel of judges who love God, are committed to Gospel ministry and have been recognized for their labors and success as songwriters and performers. This year, the songs will be judged by Bob Kauflin, John Chisum and Nikki Lerner.

Kauflin has been a pastor, songwriter, worship leader and author for more than 35 years. He has been the director of Sovereign Grace Music since 1997, overseeing their album production. He also teaches on congregational worship through WorshipGod conferences, seminars and his blog,

Chisum is a music industry professional with experience in music publishing, artist development, songwriting and producing. He has more than 400 songs published and has released eight worship recordings.

Lerner is a singer-songwriter based in Columbia, Maryland. She has shared the stage with a variety of talented artists and has a passion to see people come to an understanding of one another through music. She has served as worship director at Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Maryland, since 2006.

“Students will be able to refine and improve their songwriting skills under the supervision of skilled Cedarville worship faculty,” said Jason French, assistant professor of worship. “This is an opportunity for students to share their efforts in songwriting with their peers and industry professionals who care about them and the worship of the church.”

The top three songs will be awarded cash prizes for their labors when they’re announced in April. First place will receive $300, second place will receive $200 and third place will receive $100.

Brittany Roberts, senior music major from Carlisle, Ohio, won first place in 2017. “I entered the songwriting competition last year because I enjoy writing Christian songs, and I thought the competition would be a fun experience,” said Roberts. “I was surprised and incredibly honored to be one of the winners. My song was later used by one of the judges as a congregational hymn in his church. When he sent me the recording of his people singing it, I cried.”

Roberts continued, “My song, ‘Teach Me to Stop,’ was written as a response to a truth of which God reminded me during a difficult season in my life. It was indescribable to hear that same song ministering to other Christians as well. The songwriting competition was a wonderful experience. It confirmed my love of writing worship songs and inspired me to keep going in it.”

“One of the things that has drawn my attention and affection for Cedarville is chapel five days a week and the value of corporate singing in worship,” said French. “We want to stir up some songwriters to songwriting ’love and good works’ (Heb. 10:24).”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,963 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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