Christian Life & Communal Worship

Catalytic Connections

Faculty/Staff Stipends for the Calvin Symposium on Worship

Stipend Purpose:

  • to make visible and to strengthen connections between public Christian worship practices and a wide variety of classes at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, in ways that support the learning objectives of each course, equipping students to perceive and articulate those connections, and
  • to inspire and challenge us with opportunities to engage thoughtful Christian leaders around the world with expertise and gifts in making these catalytic connections in their communities.

Funded Projects in 2022

  • With Calvin’s Asian American Association, Jane Bruin and guest Manabu Taketani will help students build a framework for culturally-sensitive approaches to small group Bible study and mentorship within Asian communities.
  • With the Calvin Peacemakers (student organization advised by Prof. Matt Lundberg), Ted Lewis will present about the Biblical roots of restorative justice and how practices, dispositions, and virtues such as vulnerability, justice, mercy, and remorse are integral to the worship life of the church. Special attention will be given to the Beatitudes, the topic of this year's Symposium worship services.
  • In CMS 251 (Theological Reflections in Ministry: Leadership), Prof. Joanna Wigboldy and guest Rich Villodas will discuss the importance of character as the first qualification for worship and other leaders in Christian ministry, and what it means to lead out of God's equipping rather than the leader's own strength.
  • In EDUC 310 (Assessment in Cognitive Impairment), Prof. Kate Strater will invite student teachers to engage resources developed by Barbara Newman and LaTonya Penny for shaping inclusive worship practice. They will connect the implications of these approaches to assessment practices designed to honor, uplift, and include every person made in God’s image.
  • In ENGL 260 (The Craft of Writing), Prof. Elizabeth Vander Lei and guest Kristen van Eyk will explore how the dialect, register, and idiolect of language in worship evokes religious experience and conveys theological insights.
  • In ENGR 384 (Sustainability Analysis), Prof. Julie Wildschut and guest Mark Torgerson will explore how the space utilization and the use of energy in buildings for public worship align with our call to care for God’s creation.
  • In HIST 331 (Studies in Middle Eastern History), Prof. Darrell Rohl will interview Fr. Michael Nasser of the Antiochian Orthodox Church to help students learn how this living Christian community continues the faith and worship practices of the ancient communities they are studying through historic texts and artifacts.
  • In HNRS 202 (Science and the Common Good), Profs. Dave Koetje and Kevin Corcoran will explore with students in Calvin's Honors program how public worship invites us into practices and habits that shape our dispositions toward certain kinds of intellectual humility.
  • In Music 302 (Music in Global Society), Prof. Tim Steele and guest Emmett G. Price III will explore the wisdom and formative practices of worship music among Christian communities of the African diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean.
  • With Calvin’s Organ Studio and a panel of guest organists, Prof. Rhonda Edgington discuss the rewards and challenges of a being a part-time organist/church musician, especially when this work is combined with other careers.
  • In PUBH 395 (Public Health Capstone), Prof. Kristen Alford and guests Warren Kinghorn and Tom Pruski, will invite students to consider how worship practices can be a part of how worshiping communities promote holistic human flourishing, including health and wellness.
  • In SOC 333 (Corrections and Incarceration), Prof. Mark Mulder and guest Aaron Griffith will explore how worship practices can be a part of how worship communities respond to concerns about mass incarceration.
  • In SPAN 310 (Hispanic Culture in the United States), Prof. Scott Lamanna and guest Carlos Colon will consider how worship in Hispanic churches reflects the cultural values and theological convictions of their communities.
  • In STDC 343 (Faith and Public Life), Prof. Emily Helder will convene an ecumenical group of pastors to discuss with students in the Semester in Washington, D.C. program how preaching and other aspects of worship can ground and encourage faithful and thoughtful ways to engage in public life and the political process.

Application Process

**The 2022 Calvin Symposium on Worship has now come and gone, but we look forward to offering this program again in the future.**


These stipends are for

  • class sessions that during the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2022, coinciding with the Calvin Symposium on Worship (the fourth week of the university spring semester and the first week of the seminary spring semester), and
  • written reflections on this teaching and learning due on March 1, 2022.

Supported Activities:

We invite you to consider experts with whom you and your students could engage or interview via livestream (Zoom, Teams, etc.) during a class session or student group meeting that you are scheduled to teach or facilitate during Symposium Week (Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2022). 

Stipends will be given to both you (for your reflective writing after the session) and your guest (for their participation).

The expert you invite would help your students explore connections between public, communal Christian worship and the topics and/or pedagogy you engage with in your course or student program. In these sessions you could consider the following approaches:

  • Type 1: consider how the material you engage with could be preached or prayed about in worship
  • Type 2: consider how your "pedagogical liturgies" or other Christian practices you are using in your course are informed by, depend upon, or could contribute to public worship
  • Type 3: consider how the perspectives and methods of your class could be used to study worship practices
  • Type 4: consider how the skills or competencies you are developing could be employed by those who plan, lead, or evaluate public worship services

For more on these four types of connections, see this video from CICW Director John Witvliet.

*Note: The term 'worship' can be used not only to refer to public worship services, but to our entire life. We truly do worship 24/7. All of us at CICW celebrate that and champion that insight. Having said that, we then go on to explore the crucial, catalytic role that public, communal practices of worship (including prayer, preaching, Lord's Supper, baptism, art, music, funerals, weddings, prayer services, healing services, and more) have as a part of faithful Christian life and witness. So please note, this mini-grant program is not focused primarily on worship in the 24/7 sense of the term. Rather it's focused on the connection between public, communal practices of worship and this broader 24/7 spirituality.

Stipend Amounts and Requirements:

Each funded proposal will receive

  • A $300 stipend for a guest that you would engage or interview in your classroom or student group meeting via livestream (Teams, Zoom, etc.) during Symposium Week (Jan. 31-Feb. 4). You will arrange for the expert to join you and organize/facilitate the session itself. We will manage the logistics of the stipend following the class session.
  • A $300 stipend for you upon completion of the following activities:

1) explain to your students that this is part of a campus-wide program connected with the 2022 Calvin Symposium on Worship,

2) require each student in the course to complete a 2-question assessment survey immediately following their class session (we will share the results with you), and

3) write a compelling 500-1000 word reflection that summarizes key learning from the session (upon submission you will receive your stipend). We will consider publishing excerpts from these reflections on the CICW/Symposium website.

Application Link:

Applications for 2022 are now closed. Please check back again next year.

Optional Consideration:

No matter if you choose to apply for a stipend this year or in the future, we invite you to identify one potential connection between the topics and pedagogy you engage in your courses or student groups and public, communal Christian worship. Please share your brief response in this form.

Thank you in advance—in addition to helping you start thinking about proposals you could submit next year, your answers will help us discern how to better support you in this effort moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do departmental seminars qualify for this? Yes.

What about Student Life or other staff-led programs? Yes.

Do official student-led, on-campus programs qualify for this? Yes, with the faculty mentor submitting the proposal and writing up the learning summary (and receiving the stipend), and all participating students completing the assessment form.

Is there any flexibility in the timeframe? We want to promote the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 4. If circumstances make that impossible, we may consider the week prior (Jan. 24-28).

What if I can't devote an entire class period to this? Some instructors may choose to engage this material over more than one class. We are open to proposals which involve at least 50 minutes of in-depth exploration--and which entirely support the student learning outcomes for your class or program.

What do you hope happens here? What does success look like? The students will be able to perceive in fresh ways the natural, organic connections between at least one specific public worship action and what you are doing in class--and that they sense the compelling invitation to strengthen that connection in their own life and in the congregations they are a part of. (This also means that students would not feel as if this class session at all contrived.)

What if I need help fleshing out my idea or determining who to invite? We would be happy to talk with you about incipient ideas and suggest experts for you to consider. Please find us at the faculty/staff coffee outside Peet’s on Friday, Oct. 8, 3:30-4:30 pm. If you would like to set up a private conversation, please email Alexis VanZalen, CICW Program Coordinator & Administrative Assistant, at