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Strengthening Worship Through Scholarship

In 2016, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship took the church to college in an event on Calvin College’s campus. Now, in 2018, CICW is opening up new doors for the college in the church.

Nursing professor Adejoke Ayoola was one of nine Calvin College faculty members who shared scholarly insights with attendees at the
Nursing professor Adejoke Ayoola was one of nine Calvin College faculty members who shared scholarly insights with attendees at the "Taking Your Church to College" event in June 2016.

This story is republished from Calvin News & Stories.

The CICW’s Vital Worship Grants Program, which was established in 2000, is starting a second stream of grants: the Teacher-Scholars program, which seeks to foster vital worship by supporting teacher-scholars in any field as they do integrated research that connects worship with other disciplines of study and practice. The goal is to advance the flourishing of Christian public worship practices in worshiping communities.

"At Calvin College, we believe that our teaching, research, and collaborative learning are not ends in themselves, but serve a larger redemptive purpose in God's world,” said John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

Building on a firm foundation

The new stream of grants is enfolded in an already successful Vital Worship Grants Program, one that since its founding has supported more than 800 year-long projects of learning related to worship for leaders in worshiping communities across North America.

Leaders say the addition of this new stream of grants will help CICW lean more fully into its mission of both promoting the scholarly study of worship and contributing to the renewal of worship in North American congregations.

“At CICW, our mission is to promote the renewal of worship through our learning together over time. The insights of teacher-scholars in many fields can be source of profound wisdom for congregations,” said Witvliet.

Listening to many voices

And much like the worshiping communities stream of grants, the new Teacher-Scholar grants will glean that profound wisdom from a wide range of voices—scholars in any field who teach at an accredited seminary, divinity school, college or university that is a non-profit organization in North America.

"We are deeply hopeful that this program will continue to extend our ecumenical and cross-cultural engagement, helping us learn from and with Christians in many traditions and in many cultural contexts,” said Witvliet. “We all need each other in the body of Christ." 

Application for the first round of grants runs through October 1, 2018. Up to 30 grant recipients will be notified of their selection in early December 2018, and the cohort will officially kickoff their one-year grant cycle at the Vital Worship Grants annual event in June 2019. There, they will be able to interact with leaders in the worshiping communities who are beginning and/or completing their grant cycle. They will then present their scholarly research a year later in June 2020. Leaders expect these interactions will spark imagination and learning.

Serving the mission through learning

“We are a learning institute,” said Kathy Smith, associate director of CICW and program manager for grants programs. “The program helps others learn, but we also learn from it, and we can better serve our mission from what we learn. Hopefully making interdisciplinary connections will help us learn and grow and better serve worshiping communities.”

The program is made possible through the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc., with grants ranging from $8,000 to $18,000.