Christian Theological Seminary has received a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The grant will fund a year-long project in which CTS will support and expand art ministries as integral to the worship-life of congregations and the development of community within and among churches. To accomplish this goal, CTS will sponsor a series of workshops and learning opportunities for worship leaders, laity, artists and CTS students to explore artful worship, engage the creative process as an act of worship, and encourage the incorporation of the arts in worship gatherings as a regular liturgical practice. The CTS grant is one of 31 grants totaling more than $300,000 awarded to churches, schools and seminaries across North America by the CICW this year.
The leadership team for Studio Ninety-Six will direct the CTS grant activities. Studio Ninety-Six, which takes its name from Psalm 96, is a community of theologians, worship designers, artists, and thought-leaders based at CTS who work through a lens of faith and art to expand our understanding of God. For more information about Studio Ninety-Six, visit www.studioninetysix.org.
“The grant will enable us to encourage more congregations to engage in the creative process as a regular act of worship,” said Brenda Freije, CTS Director of Networking and Recruitment and project director. “Where art, theology and the creative process meet, we often experience the extraordinary in the ordinary and come to recognize the Divine in our daily lives. This intersection also can lead to healthy conversation and critical engagement around important issues.”
The CICW’s Worship Grants program (formerly known as the Worship Renewal Grants Program) is now in its 15th year and has funded more than 600 projects since its inception.
“This year, CICW approved proposals from 13 denominations, 21 states and two Canadian provinces,” said Kathy Smith, leader of the Vital Worship Grants Team. “The 2014 group includes 22 congregations and regional church bodies; seven colleges, universities and seminaries; and, two ministry organizations.”
For this year’s grant recipients, learning will begin in earnest in June when project directors for all 31 grants gather on the CICW campus to share ideas with staff as well as 2013 grant recipients, who will discuss the results of their year-long projects.
“The synergy between old and new grant recipients is invaluable,” Smith said.
The Vital Worship Grants Program is generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment’s major areas of concern are community development, education, and religion.