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46 Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants Awarded

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) announces with gratitude forty-six new Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants to recipients across the United States and Canada, including five Teacher-Scholar grants and forty-one Worshiping Communities grants.

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) announces with gratitude forty-six new Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants to recipients across the United States and Canada, including five Teacher-Scholar grants and forty-one Worshiping Communities grants. In 2023 CICW refreshed the title of its grants program to Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants and offered two submission dates for proposals (January and October 15, 2023). Beginning in 2024, three submission dates will be available. 

Teacher-Scholar Grants

The Teacher-Scholar stream of the Vital Worship Grants program recognizes that teacher-scholars in many disciplines have a unique role to play in strengthening and nurturing the life of Christian worshiping communities. CICW is excited to learn with this strong pool of Teacher-Scholars from disciplines traditionally associated with worship, such as theology and music, but also from philosophy, higher education, applied science, and sociology. These projects have a fascinating variety of emphases—for example, researching the impact of preaching about Jewish and Christian relationships on Christians’ knowledge of and appreciation for their Jewish neighbors; trauma healing through pilgrimage, movement, and the arts; composition of scripture-based songs rooted in culture of Guadeloupe; the relationship between singing and reconciliation; and research leading to the foundation of a worship leader certificate program—but they have as a common purpose and desire both deepening people’s understanding of worship and strengthening practices of public worship and faith formation.  

"Teacher-Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines have so much to contribute to congregations and parishes—helping us all see things we otherwise might miss and offering access to essential wisdom for ministry. We are grateful for each of these Teacher-Scholars and the promise of their work for strengthening congregational life," said John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. 

Recipients include scholars at two seminaries and three private colleges and universities representing three US states and one Canadian province. Each grant (ranging from $11,650 to $20,000) will fund a research project that shows promise for serving worshiping communities through strengthening Christian public worship practices.

Worshiping Communities

The forty-one Worshiping Communities projects demonstrate multifaceted approaches to creation care and engaging various cultures in worship, and they include a variety of initiatives connecting worship with justice, including public housing, food security, and prophetic imagination. Specific projects include a cohort program for second-generation Korean American pastors, a project developing worship practices that connect with Monday-through-Saturday life, and a year worshiping through the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

The Worshiping Communities Grants (ranging from $8,300 to $20,000) represent twenty-nine churches, three institutions of higher education, and nine other organizations, including a cultural center, a coffee house, and several justice-oriented organizations. Grantees are from nineteen different states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces.

Kathy Smith, leader of the Vital Worship Grants team, said, “We are grateful for these new grant recipients, trusting that these projects will serve to encourage vital worship and vital preaching in new ways. We thank God for the thoughtfulness and creativity expressed and pray that these groups and their leaders will be richly blessed in the year of learning ahead.”  

Since it began in the year 2000, the Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants Program has awarded more than a thousand grants to churches, schools, organizations, and teacher-scholars across the United States and Canada for projects that generate thoughtfulness and energy for public worship and faith formation at the local grass-roots level. An advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assists in the grant selections, and the program is generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment’s major areas of programming 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