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John D. Witvliet

John D. Witvliet is the founding director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and professor of worship, theology, and congregational and ministry studies at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary. 

A graduate of Calvin University, Dr. Witvliet holds a master's degree in theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, a master's degree in music from the University of Illinois, and a doctorate in liturgical studies and theology from the University of Notre Dame. 

As a teacher, he has mentored advanced student research and offered courses on worship and theology, the psalms, Trinitarian liturgical and sacramental theology, the history of worship, the Christian year, and the arts in worship. He has recently co-taught exploratory courses and seminars on global Christianity, intercultural learning, disability, and African American religious autobiography. 

As an administrator, he leads a team of colleagues who oversee Calvin University’s ministry studies programs and CICW’s practical and scholarly programs, including the Calvin Symposium on Worship, the Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants Program, the Compelling Preaching Coordination Program, CICW summer seminars, Reformed Worship, and CICW’s web and social media sites. Under his leadership, CICW has sponsored more than 150 conferences and seminars, published 140 academic and resource publications, and awarded over 1,100 grants to congregations and teacher-scholars who serve them.

As a faculty colleague, he has served as a member of the professional status committees of both Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, on several faculty and administrative search committees, and as a principal author of institutional documents related to faith formation, academic freedom, arts-related funding, and university structure.  

As a scholar and public speaker, he explores biblical and systematic theology of worship, the pluriformity of worship practices across cultures and denominational contexts, the role of music and the arts in worship, and culture-shaping practices of pastoral leadership, addressing both academic and lay audiences in many different Christian traditions and consulting with congregations, denominations, ecumenical organizations, and worship-related academic and pastoral ministries. In addition to lectureships, conferences, and seminars in thirty states and provinces, he has been a guest presenter at events in Hong Kong, Mexico, Nepal, Northern Ireland, England, and the Netherlands.

His published academic writings include Worship Seeking Understanding (Baker Academic, 2003), the co-edited volume Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), and several recent essays and chapters in books and academic journals, including materials presented in endowed lectures at Fuller Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Pepperdine University, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Canadian Mennonite Seminary. 

His pastoral writings include Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel: Ancient Sermons and Hymns for Contemporary Christian Inspiration (Baker, 2004), The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship (Eerdmans, 2007), a quarterly column in Reformed Worship, and essays in Christianity Today, Christian Century, and other periodicals, as well as three co-authored children’s books: At Your Baptism (Eerdmans, 2011), At God’s Table / En La Mesa de Dios (Calvin Press, 2017) and At Psalms School / En la escuela de los Salmos (GIA, 2019). 

He has been active in collaborative worship resource and congregational song projects, including The Worship Sourcebook (Faith Alive Christian Resources, Baker Books, 2004), Renew! (Hope Publishing, 1995), Sing! A New Creation (CRC Publications, 2001), Singing the New Testament (Faith Alive, 2008), Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (Faith Alive, 2012), Lift Up Your Hearts (Faith Alive, 2013), and the bilingual Spanish-English hymnal Santo, Santo, Santo / Holy, Holy, Holy (GIA, 2019). 

He has served as co-editor for four series of books—the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series (Eerdmans), Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations (Alban Institute), Church at Worship (Eerdmans), and Worship and Witness (Cascade) —as well as co-editor of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Choral Music Series (GIA).

He has also served as president of the board of directors for The Choristers Guild, music director of churches in Michigan and Indiana, research associate at Notre Dame's Center for Pastoral Liturgy, member of the editorial board of Worship, and trustee at Fuller Theological Seminary, and is the recipient of awards from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the Hampton Ministers Conferences and Choir Directors and Organists Guild, All Belong, the Brehm Center at Fuller Seminary, and Calvin University.

Last Updated: 04/06/2023

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