Two new faculty members have been appointed to the School of Church Music and Worship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, President Adam W. Greenway announced Wednesday, June 5. Joseph R. Crider and Chuck T. Lewis will serve as professors of church music and worship. In addition, Crider will serve as interim dean of the school following Leo Day’s transition to lead the new Southwestern Center for the Arts, as announced earlier this week. 

“I am thankful for God’s kindness and blessing to Southwestern Seminary in bringing Joe Crider and Chuck Lewis to join our faculty,” said Greenway. “As president of the Southern Baptist seminary with the oldest and last freestanding school dedicated to church music and worship, I am personally committed to seeing our seminary once again be the leading place where God-called men and women are equipped for music and worship ministry leadership roles in Southern Baptist churches. Having personally worked with both Drs. Crider and Lewis before, I have every confidence they will continue the rich tradition of Gospel-driven musical excellence that has characterized our seminary since I.E. Reynolds and B.B. McKinney.”

Crider comes to Southwestern Seminary with nearly 30 years of vocational ministry experience and 20 years of teaching experience. He previously served as the Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship and executive director of the Institute for Biblical Worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. 

Prior to joining the faculty at Southern Seminary, Crider served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of music and humanities at Liberty University. He also has experience in the church, having served as minister of music and worship at First Baptist Church Roanoke, Va., worship pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and worship pastor at LaGrange Baptist Church in Louisville.

Crider earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Bowling Green State University and his doctorate at the University of Northern Colorado. 

“Joe Crider brings the perfect combination of musical excellence and pastoral competence,” says Randy L. Stinson, provost and vice president for academic administration. “He brings years of academic and local church experience. As we expand our music and worship programs, I am excited to continue to work with him.” 

“What an incredible honor and stewardship it is to give direction to the School of Church Music and Worship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,” says Crider. “To continue and recapture the initial vision birthed by pioneers such as I.E. Reynolds and B.B. McKinney of training biblically sound, world-class musicians is an inspiring and essential task for all of us called to serve at Southwestern Seminary on behalf of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Lewis previously served as associate professor of church music and worship at Southern Seminary as well as director of Doxology, the seminary’s vocal ensemble. Lewis’ other ministry experience includes serving as worship pastor at Hurstbourne Baptist Church in Louisville and at First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach, Fla., as well as adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University. 

“Chuck Lewis brings decades of experience in the local church and is very musically and administratively gifted,” says Stinson. “As we continue to grow various programs, his leadership will be indispensable.”

Lewis completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Carolina and his master’s at Florida State University. He then earned a second master’s from Southwestern Seminary before completing his Ph.D. at Southern Seminary. 

As an alumnus, Lewis says he is excited to be “coming home to the dome” and standing on the shoulders of men like B.B. McKinney, I.E. Reynolds, and professors who trained him like Bruce Leafblad, James B. McKinney, and Bill Reynolds.

“I look forward to shaping the training that will equip our students to serve our churches well,” Lewis says. “I believe that worship is spiritually formational and, therefore, critically important to the life and health of the church. We will continually challenge our students to craft services of worship that are biblically grounded, Christ-centered, and Gospel-saturated. We will honor the great hymns of the past while celebrating and cultivating the new songs that the Lord gives to each new generation of Christ-followers. And we will encourage our students to love Christ and His church well while being fully committed to our Great Commandment and Great Commission given by our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

“My prayer is that the Lord would use me and all our SCMW faculty to help the light of the Gospel to shine ever brighter and ever farther from Southwestern Seminary.”