Vital Worship Grants Awarded for 2015
29 grants awarded for 2015.
Since it began in the year 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 700 grants to churches, schools and seminaries across North America for projects that can generate thoughtfulness and energy for public worship and faith formation at the local, grass-roots level.
Now, another 29 such projects will join the mix and receive grants from the Worship Institute with a total of $300,000 in funding provided by Lilly Endowment, Inc.
Among the projects:
- A congregational project in New York to explore storytelling in worship through stories from scripture, congregational history, and the individual lives of disciples of Jesus Christ.
- An effort in California to renew a Spanish-speaking worshiping community through communal practices of worship connected to art, dance, hospitality, and service.
- A regional plan in Michigan to equip congregations to welcome persons into a community of faith and prepare them for a lifelong journey of discipleship beginning with baptism, through an immersion event and a mentoring program.
- A project in Chicago to explore ways to leverage a congregation's worship and missional priorities and promote a greater commitment to discipleship and service through studies and events related to worship and justice.
- A collaborative venture in Minnesota to deepen understanding and develop creative practices of communion and community in gathering around the table with people of other Christian denominations.
- A congregational plan in Colorado to create participatory worship experiences utilizing visual, musical, and dramatic arts to promote a multisensory awareness of God’s presence, especially for the deaf community.
All told, grant recipients for 2015 represent congregations and schools from 15 denominations, 18 states and one Canadian province, 25 congregations and church plants, two regional church bodies, and two college and seminary communities. 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 common elements in focusing on the Bible and intergenerational worship. “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.
John Witvliet, director of the CICW, added that the 2015 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. We look forward to sharing insights from these projects with a larger audience in our future programming over the next several years."
For the 2015 grant recipients, learning will begin in earnest this June when project directors for all 29 grants gather on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with CICW staff, but also with the recipients of 2014 grants, who will come to campus to share the results of their year-long projects.
“We look forward to a collaborative time of worshiping and learning together,” said Smith, “and trust that the stories people share will energize and encourage everyone for their own ministries.”
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.