Symposium on Worship • January 25–27, 2018 • Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Friday/Saturday workshops will be added by October 1.
Each day of the Symposium on Worship begins and ends in plenary worship.
THURSDAY MORNING SEMINARS (choose one)
Bringing the Lessons of Charlottesville Home to Your Church: Worship in the Context of Racial Strife
Kathy Smith, moderator, with David M. Bailey, Dawn Baldwin Gibson, Charles Penny, LaTonya McIver Penny, Isaac Wardell, and Urban Doxology
In this session, we will hear poignant testimonies from worship leaders involved in leading a spiritual retreat in the middle of the August 2017 racially-motivated demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia. We will reflect with other pastoral and worship leaders from congregations who struggle in various ways against the principalities and powers of implicit and explicit racism. Then, with each leader representing a past Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Vital Worship grant, we will reflect together on how congregations can bring these lessons home—not in a one-time observance or prayer vigil, but in a year-long intentional program designed to promote a life-long vision for mutuality, inclusion, and anti-racism inspired by the promises of Revelation 21, where every nation and tribe bring their treasures into the kingdom of God.
Contemporary Worship Music—Debriefing December
Noel Snyder, moderator, with Latifah Alattas, Troy Hatfield, Sandra McCracken, Jeremy Perigo, and Lester Ruth
December is a busy time for many pastors, worship planners, and church musicians. The Advent and Christmas seasons carry a strong sense of communal meaning, and because of this, many leaders feel an added responsibility to make things “special.” In worship contexts of a decidedly contemporary bent, questions and conflicts often arise around the issue of music. Should we sing standard Christmas carols, even if we typically avoid traditional hymns the rest of the year? Do we distinguish between Advent and Christmas music, and if so, how? Do we include other special elements in our worship services? What contemporary worship music best captures both the theology and the spirit of Advent and Christmas? What kinds of songs for Advent and Christmas are we missing in the world of contemporary worship? Pastors, musicians, and others are invited to join us as we “debrief December” and plant the seeds for an especially fruitful season of worship next year. Increase your learning by bringing last December’s worship service plans along with you!
Models of Mentorship: Training the Next Generation of Worship Leaders
Joanna Wigboldy, moderator, with Emmett G. Price III, Erin Rose, Paul Ryan, Elizabeth Tamez Méndez, and Geoff Vandermolen
One of the most heartening developments in worship throughout North America is the emergence of many different programs designed to train and form the next generation of worship leaders. At the heart of nearly all of them are intentional efforts to engage mentees in dynamic relationships with trusted mentors who speak from their unique experiences and strengths. In this session, a panel of experienced mentors will share the models of mentoring used in their contexts, explore the implicit and explicit goals of each model, and explain how each model trains and equips mentors. Throughout the discussion, we also want to more precisely name the unique challenges of mentoring worship leaders—challenges that may be different from other areas of Christian ministry. The aim of this session is to inspire and encourage every congregation and ministry to grow in its capacity for encouraging and mentoring emerging leaders.
Singing Spirituals, Singing Gospel
Come ready to sing spirituals, traditional and contemporary gospel songs, praise and worship songs, inspirational songs and children's music. Participants will explore a range of choral works, including many compositions by Raymond Wise. This is an ideal seminar for choir directors and choir members and will provide ideas for smaller choirs with a can-do spirit.
Bezalel, Beauty, and the Contemporary Church
Cameron Anderson and Michael Winters
In recent years, a growing number of churches have expressed a desire to have the visual arts become more central to their community life and worship. The book of Exodus supplies a rich account of Bezalel whom God called to design and build the tabernacle. Later, in I Kings and I Chronicles, we meet Hiram who received a similar calling to build the temple. This seminar revisits God’s call to these artist-artisans, considers the place of beauty in encountering God’s glory in the tabernacle and the temple and, finally, evaluates how these Old Testament accounts may or may not be relevant to contemporary church practices. Aiding us in this exploration are three visual artists with many years of practical, hands on experience in service to local church communities.
Full, Conscious, Active Participation: Worship and Theology in Harmony
John Witvliet, moderator, with Kathleen Cahalan, Todd Johnson, Michael Joncas, Jennifer McNutt, La Verne Tolbert, and Leanne Van Dyk
For twenty years, CICW has been devoted to strengthening and deepening the theological vision that grounds and shapes our worship. Twenty years into our work, this remains perhaps the largest challenge we see in all the congregations we work with: how to invite people into the stunning beauty of a Christian vision of God, redemption, and hope, as well as a deeply Christian vision for music, preaching, baptism, the Lord's Supper, and other central worship practices. Christians in many traditions have embraced Vatican II’s call for “full, conscious, active participation” in worship. But what exactly does this mean? Is our vision of participation in worship sufficiently inspired by a vision of both divine and human agency? Is our worship inclusive of all people, across the full spectrum of abilities and disabilities? What about aspects of participation that we can’t see or hear directly?
Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, and Truth in Christian Worship and Life
Kristen Verhulst, moderator, with Cheryl Bear, Amgad Beblawi, Jaewoo Kim, Gerardo Marti, and Jenny Yang
All over the world, Christian churches are struggling to obey the Bible’s clear commands to welcome the stranger, to displace the fear that leads to exclusion, and to both extend and receive mutual hospitality as gifts of God’s Spirit. This session will explore these themes in light of recent books on Christian responses to the immigration debate (co-authored by Jenny Yang), the dynamic range of the Latino Protestant experience in the United States (Gerardo Marti), the continuing witness of Christian congregations in the Middle East (Amgad Beblawi) and refugee communities in the US (Jaewoo Kim). These topics are central to the witness of every congregation, and the session will explore how ordinary congregations that may feel quite distant from some of these concerns are crucial places for responding to them in public prayer, thoughtful preaching, and active engagement.
The Gospel of John in the Pulpit
Gary Burge and Scott Hoezee, with responses by Paul Lim
The Gospel of John offers many stories that have become the favorites of the church throughout the centuries. This workshop will explore the basic framework of the gospel and suggest how it can be organized for use in teaching and preaching. Above all, it will offer cultural clues that help the gospel’s stories spring to life in new and unexpected ways.
Singing the Story: Bilingual Songs from Easter to Pentecost
Maria Cornou and Becky Snippe, moderators, Carlos Colon, Maria Monteiro, Martin Tel, and Kathleen S. Turner
The song of the church is rich in diversity, made up of songs from all times and all places. In North America, we have a splendid opportunity in the years and decades ahead to learn to sing bilingually, in both Spanish and English, transcending a language divide in ways that help us all learn and grow together as we discover Scripturally-inspired songs from a variety of contexts and cultures. Come to explore a sampling of old and new music that can be used in congregations, campus ministries, seminaries or divinity schools, summer camps, nursing homes, parachurch organizations, denominational meetings, or local ecumenical or cross-denominational contexts—music that is being gathered for a forthcoming bilingual resource book developed by CICW and GIA Publications.
Jeff Barker and students from Northwestern College
Our primary book is—well, it’s not just a book! The Bible is meant to get off the page in sound, image, and emotion. We’ll work on simple techniques for all age groups to use their bodies along with simple props to help see the Bible as well as hear it. This seminar will be full of activities and performances surrounding group biblical storytelling.
Brush Calligraphy: The Expressive Potential of Brush and Ink Calligraphy
Brush and ink is a uniquely individual and expressive form of calligraphy. This workshop will provide an introduction to contemporary brush calligraphy, discussion of some basic letterforms, and hands-on instruction for using easy-to-use brush pens (self-feeding, no dipping into ink or dripping). Brush pens, paper, and practice sheets will be provided. No experience necessary. Class limit 12.
Mental Health and the Practice of Christian Public Worship: An Exploratory Conversation
Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, moderator, with Cindy Holtrop, Warren Kinghorn and John Swinton
Sessions related to mental health are not (yet) a common feature of many conferences on worship. Yet mental-health-related concerns affect as many as one in five people overall, with one of every twenty-five people living with serious mental health challenges. What we say or fail to say about these challenges in worship settings can be profoundly formative for how Christian communities respond to these challenges. Further, decisions we make about how to shape and lead worship can do a lot to either welcome or inhibit the participation of those among us who struggle with mental health issues. This session is an agenda-setting conversation that will seek to identify key priorities for congregations in the years ahead as well as for organizations such as the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship who seek to serve and strengthen congregational life. We will focus especially on these central questions:
• What are the most pastorally constructive ways to speak about mental health in public prayer and preaching? What are problematic tendencies to avoid?
• How can we shape public worship services in ways that deepen the participation of those who struggle with mental health issues, even when mental health concerns are not explicitly named?
• How might the Holy Spirit use the public worship life of Christian congregations to minister to those with mental health concerns as well as to those who care for them?
• How might our answers to these questions vary if we focused on particular mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance addiction, or dementia?
• What resources have already been developed to strengthen Christian worship practices to respond to these challenges? What resources are most needed?
• What additional questions should we be asking? Who are key resources to help us address them?
Wisdom for Preaching, Praying and Singing about Suffering
Mary Hulst, moderator, with Kevin Adams, Mika Edmondson, Danjuma Gibson, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., and Lisa Weaver
In addition to his nonviolent political advocacy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s preaching ministry regularly focused on the profound experience and trauma of unearned suffering. In a recent book on King’s preaching ministry, Mika Edmonson explores King’s insights and instinctive approaches to this tragic dimension of human experience. Responding to suffering, especially unearned suffering, is one of the most pastorally demanding tasks of all—a task that requires theological insight, spiritual poise, and the nurturing ministry of the very Comforter that Jesus promised to send us. This session will explore Christian wisdom for preaching, praying, and singing about human suffering, drawing wisdom from not only King, but from a wide range of biblical, literary, and cultural resources.
Creative Leadership of Congregational Song: Tips for Organists
The ever-expanding areas of expertise needed from organists to help congregations form into singing communities provide rich opportunity for new and creative approaches. Jan Kraybill will bring tips and techniques for organists in a variety of worship contexts. We'll explore ways in which our instrument—a community of individual voices—can best invite and enhance vibrant congregational singing of hymns and songs across cultures and generations.
While We Are Waiting, Yielded and Still
This retreat (from 10 am – 3 pm) will be limited to 15 people who will spend time together in a home setting, also enjoying fellowship over the noon meal. In this day of quiet together, we will ponder afresh “how deep the Father’s love for us;” enjoy “sweet communion” with Jesus; and pledge anew, God’s Spirit helping us, “with one holy passion,” to return our Lover’s love.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON SEMINARS (choose one)
Income Inequality, Congregational Life, and the Practices of Christian Worship
David M. Bailey, moderator, with Patton Dodd, Mike Hoogeboom, Alice Rhee, Ray Rivera, and Urban Doxology
Some of the most direct commands in the New Testament about the practices of worship focus on ensuring that the rich and the poor can worship side by side as brothers and sisters in Jesus (I Cor. 11, James). What challenging commands these are for people on every continent in light of the pervasive and growing income inequality worldwide! In nearly every Christian ministry, income equality ends up being a significant dynamic in shaping communal life even though it is very hard to discuss. In this session, we will harvest insights from two Calvin Institute of Christian Worship consultations in 2017 on this topic, exploring exemplary ways that churches—and individuals within churches—respond to income inequality, as well as considering key questions to address together in the years ahead.
Vital Spirituality: Harvesting Wisdom from History, Theology, and Ecumenical Encounter
Noel Snyder, moderator, with Mika Edmondson, Mary Hulst, Jennifer Powell McNutt, Tom Schwanda, and Leanne Van Dyk
For more than 20 years, the Reformed Spirituality Network gathered a variety of Christians in learning about vital spiritual practices from the Reformed tradition, all aimed at deepening our engagement with Scripture, our participation in worship and sacraments, and our prayer-shaped walk with God. This session honors the legacy of the network's contribution by focusing on the beauty of several fundamental spiritual practices and disciplines and how they can promote deeper ecumenical relations with other Christians:
• contemplative Bible reading in worship and daily life;
• discernment of our personal and corporate union with Christ;
• deeper engagement with baptism and the Lord’s Supper as means of grace;
• the Christian year as a window into the entire scope of Jesus’s life and ministry; and
• Lord's Day observance as a witness to the coming kingdom.
Each presenter will reflect on historic spiritual practices and explore how contemporary spirituality can be deeply enriched both by digging deeply into the wisdom of the past within a given tradition (in this case, Reformed) and by learning from Christians in other traditions and contexts. The aim of this session is to harvest insights from history, theology, and ecumenical encounters to promote a vital Christian piety that deepens our love for God, for each other, and for the entire world God made and loves.
Worship that Affirms and Equips for Vocation
Joanna Wigboldy, moderator, with Kathleen Cahalan, TaRita Johnson, Isaac Wardell, and Cory Willson
In worship, we expect God to renew our hearts and minds, but do we also expect God to renew our work? Each worshiper has a vocation—often multiple vocations—that are an integral part of the kingdom of God. In this seminar, we will explore tools and practices for worshiping communities that affirm worshipers’ varied vocations, equipping them to live their vocations as an outflowing of their faith and to participate with one another in discerning their varied callings. Panelists will speak to the experience of vocation and calling at various life stages as well as the ways in which liturgy, song, and preaching can connect worship with vocation.
Bringing Global Concerns into Preaching, Public Prayer, and Worship: Human Trafficking, Immigration and Refugees, Muslims and Christian Engagement, Poverty, and the Middle East Conflict
Maria Cornou, moderator, with Amgad Beblawi, Jaewoo Kim, Paul Lim, Gerardo Marti, Reggie Smith, and Jenny Yang
Every week, the news brings us a litany of human tragedy. All over the world, believers respond to these tragedies through ministries of prayer, activism, and healing. Yet so many churches shut out these concerns in weekly worship, especially with the apparent decline of public intercessory prayer in many contexts. How can churches recover from this pattern of feel-good, selfish indifference? Our panelists bring to this discussion significant expertise in some of the world’s most vexing problems, and they will share their own insights about what local churches all over the world can do to engage these concerns more faithfully—through learning, prayer, preaching, singing, and baptism and Lord’s Supper practices that embody the “long obedience in the same direction” of gospel-shaped engagement.
Worship and Culture: Intense Global Learning for Essential Questions We All Engage
John Witvliet, moderator, with Cheryl Bear, Renee Begay, Mark Charles, Jonghun Joo, Jean Kidula, Emmett G. Price III, and Elizabeth Tamez Méndez
Every Christian community is engaged in a dynamic, interactive engagement with its local cultural context. “Contextual,” “relevant,” and “authentic” are among the most common words in how-to books about worship, leading us all to wrestle with how worship can be both relevant and prophetic, both contextual and counter-cultural. Ultimately, this is an extremely dynamic, even messy business, involving not only music styles, but time perception, the nature of authority and leadership, dress codes, and much, much more. This session will explore dynamic conversations about enculturation, foregrounding learning that is emerging in Kenya and in indigenous First Nations communities in North America, with responses from leaders in African American, Latino, and Anglo-American contexts.
Teaching and Learning in Christian Congregations and Ministries
Kathy Smith, moderator, with Cameron Anderson, Lester Ruth, La Verne Tolbert, and Kathleen S. Turner
What a joy it is to “grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ”—and what a challenge it is to help promote that growth in Christian communities in winsome, thoughtful, and fruitful ways! This entire conference is an exploration in the joy of learning—learning more about Christ and about the body of Christ. But what about learning back home in our churches and other ministry contexts where not everyone is equally interested in being stretched? This session will feature insights from a variety of people who love to teach in ways that help people in ordinary congregations learn about worship, the arts, inclusion, and, ultimately, Jesus himself.
A Thankful Heart: Contours of Gratitude for Preaching
Scott Hoezee and Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
In Colossians 3, after encouraging believers to keep on dying and rising with Christ, the Apostle Paul turns to gratitude: Be thankful. Sing with gratitude in your hearts. Give thanks to God the Father through the Lord Jesus. But what is gratitude? What are some basic contours of gratitude? How is gratitude an engine of joy? Of good works? How can we preach gratitude without moralism? This seminar will address an array of gratitude-related topics to help preachers and worship leaders allow sermons and worship services to be steeped in gratitude.
Means of Grace: Forming New and Sustaining “Renewing” Congregations and Church Plants
Kevin Adams, moderator, with Eric Dirksen, Chris Flesoras, Agustin Hubert, and Amy Schenkel
Many Christian traditions refer at least to preaching, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist as “means of grace.” Abundant grace is exactly what passionate ministries of church planting and renewing, missional congregations are called to embody in the neighborhoods and contexts in which they grow. In this seminar, veteran practitioners discuss how mission-shaped preaching and sacramental life function as means of grace in their communities. What is the role of preaching and sacraments in forming missional congregations? How can Lectionary-based preaching be missional? How does need-based topical preaching both help and hinder forming a mission-shaped community? How does a missional leader imaginatively apply and adjust the preaching and worship DNA of their congregation or tradition? Come to engage a discussion that sees evangelism and robust worship as beautifully integrated elements of every congregation’s ministry.
Worship 101: Singing, Praying, and Reading the Psalms in Corporate Worship
Paul Ryan and Calvin College Worship Apprentices
As a resource for planning and leading worship, the Psalms are a fountain of wisdom and passion. The Psalms capture the breath of human experience, they guide us in our language for prayer, and they embody the heart’s most honest song before God. In this seminar—ideal for emerging worship leaders—we will explore basic principles, practices, and resources for planning and leading worship which place the Psalms at the center.
The Story of Joseph (Gen. 34–50)
Jeff Barker and students from Northwestern College
One of our primary tasks in worship is to remember God’s work in biblical history. Last year, Northwestern College performed a new translation of the ancient dramatic epic Joseph and His Brothers. The production’s artists will perform segments of their work (through video and live performance) and discuss the implications for worship.
Creating Paper Lace Cut Banners
This seminar will be a hands-on opportunity for participants to learn the technique of designing and cutting a paper lace cut banner. Along with technical instruction, there will also be conversation about elements of design in creating the banners, how to determine the scale and placement of banners in sacred space, and philosophical and logistical topics. The class promises to be creative, informative, and fun.
Designing Your Congregation’s Faith Formation and Worship Framework
Syd Hielema, moderator, with Ronald Chu, Sam Gutierrez, Laura Keeley, Aaron Mamuyac, Kristen Rietkerk, and Lesli VanMilligen
What framework does your congregation use in planning and implementing its worship and faith formation strategies? “Ah,” you think to yourself, “we don’t have one and we don’t need one.” But you do have one; it probably has never been articulated. This seminar will identify the primary parts of such a framework and suggest practical methods for both identifying your current framework and designing a refreshed framework custom-built to bless your specific congregation.
Universal Design: “further up, come further in!”
Barbara J. Newman, moderator, with Erik Carter, Warren Kinghorn, Anne Masters, Charles Penny, LaTonya McIver Penny, and John Swinton
Over the past three years, each Worship Symposium has featured new learning about how churches can expand hospitality and engagement for all people across the range of ability and disability. It’s not just buildings that need universal design; it’s also what happens inside those buildings, including our worship services. When we engage this good work initially, the focus is rightly on small, tangible changes that embody welcome and embrace: using gluten free bread, printing materials and projecting with large print, installing hearing loops. What a gift these changes have been to hundreds of worshipers! When we continue to explore this generative conversation, we move—to use a famous phrase of C.S. Lewis—further up and further into this vision of mutual inclusion, challenging us to see how this discussion deepens our appreciation for the very nature of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, preaching, and public prayer.
Singing Psalms Together
Martin Tel, moderator, with Carlos Colon, Michael Joncas, Jan Kraybill, Sandra McCracken, Ed Willmington, and Raymond Wise
In the past ten years, arguably more musical settings of the psalms for congregational use have been written in more musical styles than at any other time in the history of the church (though perhaps the Internet just makes us vividly aware of all this good work!). When we sing psalms, we are letting the word of God dwell in our hearts in a remarkable way, uniting us with believers from every century and continent. In this session, we will hear the story of one of the most-sung psalm settings: “On Eagle’s Wings.” We will sing black gospel and bilingual Spanish-English psalm settings. We will explore new and emerging psalm settings in folk, pop-rock, and classical styles. And we will savor the good ways that the “hymnal of the Old Testament” is resonating in a variety of Christian communities today.
Plenary sessions are offered concurrently on Friday and repeated on Saturday.
Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship
Worshiping in Spirit and in Truth
Marianne Meye Thompson