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Grants Will Fund Projects to Revitalize Worship and Preaching

The newest wave of Vital Worship, Vital Preaching grants will fund 54 projects across the United States and Canada starting Jan. 1, 2024.

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) has approved grants to 54 recipients across the United States and Canada to stimulate thoughtful, creative work in strengthening Christian worship practices and preaching.

The Vital Worship, Vital Preaching grants, awarded in two streams, include 15 awards to teacher-scholars working in diverse academic disciplines and 39 awards to worshiping communities, including congregations, university chapels, retreat centers, and online communities. Grant awards in this grouping range from $10,000 to $25,000 and will fund yearlong projects beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

This cohort is the second group of grants awarded this year.  Forty-six other grantees were announced in April 2023. In 2024, the grants program will introduce a third yearly grant cycle, with proposals due in February, June, and October.

Diverse Projects, Common Themes

Although the 54 grants fund a variety of projects across diverse contexts, several broad themes stand out in this group of grantees. These include projects focused on:

  • The role of the arts in worship practices
  • Worship and faith formation practices in multicultural, multilingual, or minority congregations
  • Emotional healing, trauma healing, or racial healing
  • Inclusivity and removing barriers to worship
  • The theology of work and seeing the work of Christian STEM professionals and other workers as a form of worship

“We were pleased to receive many thoughtful and interesting proposals from a wide variety of Christian churches, schools, and organizations. Topics ranged from music, visual arts, and dance to preaching, storytelling, and prayer,” said Kathy Smith, program manager for the grants program and CICW’s senior associate director. “Some projects will explore theological understandings of worship and sacraments through scripture study, while others will focus on intergenerational activities, communal worship and meal sharing, and accessibility for people of all abilities. For all of these, we are grateful.”

Grants for Teacher-Scholars

Through the grant program’s Teacher-Scholar stream, CICW recognizes the unique role that teacher-scholars in a wide range of disciplines can play in strengthening the life of Christian worshiping communities. The 15 recipients work in colleges, universities, and seminaries in eight states and two Canadian provinces. Their projects will explore an intriguing range of topics, including:

  • Tracking how Latinx hip-hop artists create spiritual support networks inside and outside congregational settings
  • Developing resources to meet the needs of those with sensory-processing sensitivity during worship services
  • Studying how art-based training can stimulate a pastor’s creativity, curiosity, and courage
  • Researching the history of the charismatic movement in the Pacific Northwest

Grants for Worshiping Communities

Within the Worshiping Communities stream, grantees comprise 24 churches, four institutions of higher education, four denominations/conferences, and six other organizations that include collaborative networks, emerging initiatives, a retreat center, and an online community. Recipient organizations are based in 18 states and two provinces.

Though grantees include a full denomination, many recipients in this round of grants are small and emerging congregations, both urban and rural, seeking to make worship more meaningful or accessible for their members and their surrounding communities through a variety of projects, including:

  • Creating workshops that broaden the understanding of preaching in an intergenerational and hybrid worship context
  • Healing brokenness in a faith community through storytelling
  • Launching creative projects in music and public art to forge ties between worship and outreach
  • Offering interactive gatherings for skeptics and dropouts, featuring a blend of ancient liturgy and modern expressions
  • Promoting understanding of the body, embodiment, and mental health in a Korean immigrant church
  • Revitalizing worship in three co-located multiethnic congregations by expanding the use of arts and music in worship

Despite their diverse approaches, all 54 grantees share a common aim of deepening people’s understanding of worship and strengthening practices of public worship and faith formation.

“We are grateful that this program can support both worshiping communities eager to learn and teacher-scholars eager to explore topics that will support, challenge, and strengthen worshiping communities,” said John Witvliet, CICW’s director. “We look forward to learning from and with these grantees in the year to come.”

About Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants

Since its beginning in 2000, the Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants program has awarded more than a thousand one-year grants to worshiping communities (churches, schools, and other organizations) and teacher-scholars in various disciplines across the United States and Canada. The grants fund thoughtful, creative projects that promote renewal in public worship and faith formation at the local, grass-roots level. In 2024, the program will expand to offer three application submission dates—one every four months—to create more flexibility in the application process and draw more applicants. In 2023, the program launched an invitational Spanish-language grant program for Hispanic worshiping communities in the United States. An advisory board of pastors and teachers from diverse backgrounds assists in the grant selections.

The Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants program is generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment has three major areas of programming: religion, education and youth, and community development.

For more information about the Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants program, please see To see a list of current and past grant recipients, visit