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Cleland Boyd McAfee (September 25, 1866 – February 4, 1944) was an American theologian, Presbyterian minister and hymn writer, best known for penning the gospel hymn, "Near to the Heart of God," and its tune called "McAfee".[1][2] He wrote the song after the concurrent deaths of two of his young nieces, caused by diphtheria. He also is believed to be the creator of the acronym TULIP, which represents the Five Points of Calvinism.[3]

Cleland Boyd McAfee
Born(1866-09-25)September 25, 1866
Ashley, Missouri, United States
DiedFebruary 4, 1944(1944-02-04) (aged 77)
EducationPark College
Union Theological Seminary
Harriet "Hattie" Lawson Brown (m. 1867–1959)
(her death)
ChildrenMildred Helen McAfee Horton, Ruth Myrtle and Katharine Agnes
Parent(s)John Armstrong McAfee and Anna Waddell Bailey
Writings'The Greatest English Classic: A Study of the King James Version of the Bible
Congregations served
First Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Illinois; Lafayette Avenue Church of Brooklyn, New York
Offices held
Moderator, General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
Director, Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions

McAfee was born in Ashley, Missouri, in 1866, as one of five children. His father, John A. McAfee, was[4] the founder of Park College in Parkville, Missouri and its president from 1875 until his death in 1890. The son graduated from Park College in 1884, and later graduated from Union Theological Seminary in New York. McAfee went on to serve as a professor of philosophy, choir director, pastor and dean of Park College until 1901, when he left to minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago. McAfee moved from First Presbyterian in 1904, to pastor the Lafayette Avenue Church of Brooklyn, in Brooklyn, New York. McAfee also taught systematic theology at McCormick Theological Seminary, from 1912 to 1930.

In 1912, McAfee authored the treatise, "The Greatest English Classic: A Study Of The King James Version Of The Bible."[5] He was moderator of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and led the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions from 1930 to 1936. He died in 1944.

On August 10, 1892, McAfee married Harriet "Hattie" Lawson Brown; they had three children, Ruth Myrtle, Katharine Agnes, and Mildred Helen.[6]

Mildred Helen McAfee Horton went on to become president of Wellesley College (1936-1949) and the first director of WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in the United States Navy (1942–46).


  1. ^ "Cleland Boyd McAfee, 1866-1944". Cyberhymnal. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  2. ^ The United Methodist Hymnal. The United Methodist Publishing House. 1989. p. 472. ISBN 0-687-43132-8.
  3. ^ Wail, William H., (1913). The Five Points of Calvinism Historically Considered, The New Outlook 104 (1913).CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ McKim, LindaJo K. (1993). The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion. Louisville. Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 356–357. ISBN 0-664-25180-3.
  5. ^ McAfee, Cleland Boyd. "Study of the King James Bible". Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  6. ^ Tenlen, Jenny. "Family of John Armstrong McAfee (414) & Anna Waddle Bailey". The McAfees, Kentucky Pioneers. Jenny Tenlen. Retrieved 11 January 2011.

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Religious titles
Preceded by
Rev. Hugh Kelso Walker
Moderator of the 141st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
Succeeded by
Rev. Hugh Thomson Kerr