Mission

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW), located at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an interdisciplinary study and ministry center that promotes the scholarly study of the theology, history, and practice of Christian worship and the renewal of worship in worshiping communities across North America and beyond.

Founded in 1997, CICW is dedicated to using the unique resources of a Christian liberal arts college and theological seminary—with its collegial environment, international faculty and student body, wide interdisciplinary expertise, and culture of ongoing learning—to partner with congregations, denominations, parachurch organizations, professional organizations, and publishers to further our mission.

The implementation of this mission is guided by the following commitments:

  1. Integration of Faith and Learning.
    Worship can be immeasurably enriched by rigorous study of the history, theology, and practice of Christian worship. The Institute models the integration of faith and learning which is at the heart of Calvin College’s mission.
  2. World Perspective.
    We have much to learn from Christian worship in ancient North Africa and modern-day Korea, in medieval Europe and modern-day South America. The Institute promotes learning about and from Christian worship in all times and places.
  3. Inter-disciplinary Scope.
    Artists, theologians, cultural anthropologists, missionaries, musicians, historians, pastors, and sociologists all have unique insights into ways Christians may worship God more profoundly. The Institute promotes active discussions among practitioners of several disciplines.
  4. Wide Ecumenical Audience.
    The Institute respects and cultivates the strengths of the Reformed, evangelical tradition in which Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary stand, as well as to engage Christians in other traditions.
  5. Constructive Purpose.
    The Institute encourages public worship that is both spiritually vital and theologically rooted, that has both integrity and relevance, and resists unnecessary divisions over worship styles.

On the 10th anniversary as an Institute, CICW published 10 Core Convictions about Worship.

Funding for the basic operation of CICW is provided by Calvin College. We are also grateful for generous grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Luce Foundation, which have allowed us to significantly increase the range and scope of our programming.

Over the past several years, CICW has

  • seen our annual Symposium on Worship grow in attendance from 400 to 1,500 annual attendees,
  • awarded worship grants to more than 500 congregations throughout North America, and many Christian college campuses,
  • offered over 250 regional education events in 25 states and provinces,
  • co-sponsored worship conferences or training events in Egypt, El Salvador, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands,
  • published 100 books of either scholarly analysis or practical worship resources, including book series with Eerdmans, Baker, and The Alban Institute, and music series with GIA Publications, Inc. and Adoro Music Publishing,
  • developed an extensive library of web-based worship resources,
  • translated worship-related writings into Spanish and Korean,
  • co-sponsored conferences and seminars on such diverse topics as worship and evangelism, the music of Bach, the 35th anniversary of Vatican II, the practice of worship worldwide, worship and aesthetics, worship in post-modern culture, worship and technology, worship and biblical theology, and worship on college campuses,
  • partnered with over a dozen professional organizations, parachurch organizations, colleges and seminaries in various publishing and continuing education events, as well as several agencies of the Christian Reformed Church, and
  • mentored over 50 students at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary as active participants in Institute.

Other Centers and Institutes at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary
The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is one of 13 centers and institutes at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary.

Each of these centers is designed to accomplish particular programmatic goals in research, publication, networking, or educational events in ways that draw on the wide expertise of Calvin faculty and staff, provide rich learning experiences for students, and offer significant resources for a wide audience, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Other Institutes of Worship

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is one of several worship centers at academic institutions around North America.

Other institutions offering degrees in worship

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship collaborates with Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for several academic courses and degree programs.