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Hymn writers seek Kickstarter support

Jay Mathes is working to give Sunday school hymns a new twist.

The 30-year-old member of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles belongs to Restoration Project, a songwriting and recording collective that has been restoring old hymns and writing new ones since 2007.

“These recordings will not sound like children’s songs,” Mathes said, comparing them to folk rock by such artists as The Civil Wars.

College Church in Wheaton funded the group’s debut album in 2008, Mathes said, and its proceeds paid for a follow-up recording in 2011.

Now, he said, Restoration Project is seeking community support via Kickstarter for its next project, an album series titled “Firm Foundation.”

The series will feature Sunday school hymns, such as “This Little Light of Mine,” with new arrangements and lyrics.

“[The Sunday school songs] tend to be on the shallow side when it comes to theology,” Mathes said. “So the goal in doing this recording is as much about bringing theology to adults who have learned these songs and have them ingrained in their minds, but might benefit from a little more theology around the song … as well as trying to bring the theology to children.”

Restoration Project needs $10,000 to produce the albums and has given itself 30 days to reach that goal on Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects.

By Monday afternoon – four days into the fundraising campaign – the project earned 17 backers pledging a combined $908.

“What really appealed to me is the support network which is built into Kickstarter and the community itself,” Mathes said. “It’s this interesting sort of cyclical, almost self-sustaining community where those who are in it help fund other peoples’ projects, and other projects you fund start to fund yours.”

Restoration Project won’t, however, get any funding if it falls short of its goal, Mathes said. If that happens, he said, the series’ production will be delayed.

“I’m very optimistic and hopeful we’ll be able to reach our goal,” he said.

Visit for more information about Restoration Project. Its music can be streamed on Spotify, Mathes said, noting churches nationwide also have access to its sheet music.

“We suspect there are a number of churches across the country using our songs based on the licensing fees we’ve seen being generated from our catalog,” Mathes said.

Has he heard his music at a church service?

“Yes, it’s unexpected,” he said. “I’m just happy that they found that some of our songs fit the theme of their service for that day, and I hope that those who hear it and sing along are able to know more of who God is and worship him better.”

Know more

Restoration Project is trying to raise $10,000 through Kickstarter to produce its “Firm Foundation” album series of Sunday school hymns with new arrangements and lyrics. To donate, visit

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