The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW), located at Calvin University 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 university 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’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 University 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.

10 Core Convictions About Worship

A set of key values published on the 10th anniversary as an Institute 

Land Acknowledgement

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is located on the campus of Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in a region that served as the ancestral home of the Hopewell people and, more recently, the Anishinaabe Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi nations. As we do our work at CICW, we are grateful for the way these people cared for the land and loved it. We lament the injustice of treaties and covenants between settler peoples and indigenous peoples that were unjust or unkept. We are striving to learn how to tell this history more truthfully, to care for these lands more intentionally, and to embody more just practices toward all peoples, God helping us. As an institution of a binational denomination--the Christian Reformed Church in North America--we are grateful to learn from discussions in both Canada and the United States about this work, including from the Centre for Public Dialogue, as well as in multi-denominational forums, including NAIITS An Indigenous Learning Community. For our own learning on these themes, see articles tagged contextualized worshipdiscipleshipdoctrine of discoveryethnodoxologyindigenous worshipnative americans

Range and Scope of Programming 

Funding for the basic operation of CICW is provided by Calvin University. 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 years, CICW has

  • seen our annual Symposium on Worship grow in attendance from 400 to 1,500 annual participants,
  • awarded worship grants to more than 950 congregations throughout North America, and many Christian college campuses, and introduced a second stream of grants to teacher-scholars,
  • 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 a choral music series with GIA Publications, Inc.,
  • developed an extensive library of web-based worship resources,
  • translated worship-related writings into Spanish, Korean, and many other languages,
  • co-sponsored conferences, consultations, and seminars on diverse topics such 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; worship on college campuses; universal design for worship; worship and intergenerational faith formation for the urban context; and income inequality, congregational life and the practices of Christian worship, 
  • partnered with numerous professional organizations, parachurch organizations, colleges and seminaries in various publishing and continuing education events, as well teams and departments of the Christian Reformed Church, and
  • mentored students at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary as active participants in Institute work.

Other Centers and Institutes at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is one of several centers and institutes at Calvin University 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.

  • Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship 
    Founded in 1976, the CCCS supports and enables scholars from a wide variety of academic fields to produce books, articles, lectures, conferences, etc., dealing with issues of public concern and areas of Christian scholarship.
  • Calvin Center for Faith and Writing 
    The CCFW seeks to create space for conversations about faith and writing and to create a culture of active, discerning readers, particularly through the biennial Festival of Faith and Writing.

Other Institutes of Worship

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

Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, California, USA

Institute for Worship Studies
Orange Park, Florida, USA

Metropolitan Ardiry Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies
Saint Paul University
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Notre Dame Center for Pastoral Liturgy
Notre Dame University
South Bend, Indiana, USA

Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute
Berkeley, California, USA

Yale Institute of Sacred Music
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut, USA