Studying Worship on Seminary Campuses - About This Project
Seminaries are the academic institutions where scholars study theology, and where pastors and other leaders are formed and trained for professional ministry in the church.
They are not, strictly speaking, congregations. Yet the Christian communities at nearly every seminary choose to worship together on campus during the week, to pray and to praise and to proclaim the good news. All would affirm the central importance of worship to its communal life and task. Worship is deeply formative—spiritually, educationally, and institutionally.
Yet there is significant variety in the ways in which seminary communities worship. Some seminaries meet every day; some come together only once per week. Some encourage or expect student leadership, others emphasize the place of ordained faculty and special guest speakers. Some worship programs are directed by a pastor/scholar, either formally trained in liturgy or schooled with years of pastoral leadership; some are initiated and sustained by volunteers. Some focus on passing on an inherited liturgical tradition, others see the chapel as an experimental worship laboratory. There is nearly as much variety in seminary worship as there is in the rest of the church.
Despite this variety, there has been almost no research or sustained reflection done on the character and function of seminary worship services, nor their relationship to the seminary curriculum—especially courses in preaching, worship, music, and so on. Likewise, there is little collegial conversation among seminaries and the individuals responsible for seminary worship about these services, little shared information about what happens at other schools.
Noting this situation, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, in partnership with the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology & the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, convened a gathering of scholars and seminary professionals in June of 2007 to begin a program of resource gathering, supportive networking, and theoretical exploration. These web pages are the first-fruits of that gathering. The information is organized according to these three distinct but overlapping areas.
While seminarians and those responsible for seminary worship may find the materials here helpful (both to peruse and perhaps to participate more deeply in ongoing research), those at work in congregational contexts may also benefit from studying how worship is taught and practiced by those who will lead the next generation of worship in our churches.