Calvin Institute of Christian Worship announces $300,000 in grants to support worship renewal across North America

Since it began in the year 2000, the Worship Renewal Grants Program (housed at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Mich.) has awarded more than 600 grants to churches, schools and seminaries across North America for projects that can generate renewed interest, thoughtfulness and energy for public worship at the local, grass-roots level.

Now, another 27 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:

  • An effort in Massachusetts that will provide learning, reflection and renewal for pastors, music ministry leaders and others in predominately African American churches
  • A year-long guided exploration of the book of Psalms through workshops in dance, public reading of scripture, theatre, painting, sculpture and memorization that will bridge racial, generational and socio-economic obstacles in a diverse multiethnic Grand Rapids community
  • A study in North Carolina of the theology of worship space and worship hospitality ahead of a planned renovation to a church’s sanctuary
  • An exploration in California of “ancient-future” worship that is intended to help a congregation stay true to its reformed roots, while better connecting to the historic Christian church
  • A Liturgical Certification Program in Las Vegas that will educate, renew and deepen the understanding of Roman Catholic liturgy for a parish of 10,000 families and the local diocese

All told, grant recipients for 2013 represent congregations and schools from 11denominations in 15 states and two Canadian provinces (an advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assisted in the grant selections).

Betty Grit, the manager of the Worship Renewal Grants program, said that projects chosen this year to receive funding had some common elements.

“Worship renewal is always deeply rooted in Scripture and provides multiple opportunities for worshipers of all ages to engage in learning and exploration,” she said. “The full, conscious and active participation of all worshipers—the young and old, the powerless and powerful, newcomers and lifelong worshipers—is common to our 2013 grants. The goals for these projects are ambitious and inspiring, and we are eager to see the Spirit at work in the coming year.”

John Witvliet, director of the CICW, added that the 2013 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. And he echoed Grit’s thoughts about the spirit of the program and the work of the Spirit.

“Worship renewal is a gift of God’s Spirit,” he said, “a gift for which we pray, rather than an accomplishment we achieve. So, even as we announce these grants, and as we look forward to the work these recipients will do in the coming year, we also pray.”

For the 2013 grant recipients, learning will begin in earnest this June when project directors for all 28 grants gather on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with CICW staff, but also with the recipients of 2012 grants, who will come to campus to share the results of their year-long project.

That coming together of both old and new grant recipients is intentional and fruitful said Grit: “It is an opportunity for learning and conversation that encourages and provides resources for worship renewal.

The Worship Renewal 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.

For more information on the grants program, including a complete list of this year’s grants recipients, please see:

~written by Phil de Haan, posted April 16, 2013