31 Grants Awarded Across North America

Since 2000, the Vital Worship Grants Program of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Mich. (formerly known as the Worship Renewal Grants Program) has awarded more than 600 grants to churches, schools and seminaries across North America for projects that generate thoughtfulness and energy for public worship and faith formation at the local, grass-roots level.

Now, another 31 such projects, having received $300,000 in grants from the Worship Institute with funding provided by Lilly Endowment, Inc, will join the mix as the Institute announced today its grant recipients for the upcoming year.

Among the projects:

  • A multicultural mentoring program for high school and college musicians to build the liturgical capacity of the parishes in the Roman Catholic dioceses of Southern California.
  • A year-long reflection on worship in a university in Tennessee that nurtures the practice of prayer in a new chapel space and exposes students to local church leaders and various worship traditions.
  • An effort in Colorado to engage people from different ethnic communities in basic Christian worship principles and practices to promote unity, faith formation, hospitality and missional opportunities.
  • A culturally relevant drama and visual arts training program for worship leaders in prison settings in Illinois as a means of promoting a vivid awareness and heartfelt response to God.
  • A congregational plan in Washington, D.C. to train leaders through a study of the theology of baptism and promote life together in diverse communities through designing and implementing vesper worship services.
  • An effort in New York City that brings together multiple generations to plan liturgies that connect Sunday worship to daily life and enhances the liturgy through various artistic interpretations of Scripture.

21 states, 2 provinces, 31 denominations

All told, grant recipients for 2014 represent congregations and schools from 31 denominations in 21 states and two Canadian provinces. The group includes 22 congregations and regional church bodies; seven colleges, universities and seminaries; and two ministry organizations. An advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assisted in the grant selections.

Kathy Smith, leader of the Vital Worship Grants team, said that projects chosen this year to receive funding had some common elements.  

“Vital worship is always deeply rooted in Scripture and provides many opportunities for worshipers of all ages to engage in learning and exploration,” she said. “The full, conscious and active participation of all worshipers and the formation of their faith through public worship is a common theme in our 2014 grants.”

John Witvliet, director of the CICW, added that the 2014 projects will help the Worship Institute in its own work of both 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.

"We learn a tremendous amount from these programs—from the wisdom demonstrated in designing them and the insights gleaned from implementing and adapting them as they unfold," he said. "We look forward to sharing insights from these projects with a larger audience in our future programming over the next several years."

Day of learning in June

Grantees share learning at poster sessionFor the 2014 grant recipients, learning will begin in earnest this June when project directors for all 31 grants gather on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with CICW staff, but also with the recipients of 2013 grants, who will come to campus to share the results of their year-long projects.

“The synergy between old and new grant recipients is exciting,” said Smith, “because so much learning happens through conversations over meals and while viewing posters produced by the concluding grant projects.”

The Vital Worship Grants Program is generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment’s major areas of concern are religion, education, and community development.

View the complete list of this year’s grants recipients. For more information on the grants program visit www.worship.calvin.edu/grants.