“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. In old age they shall produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap.” ~Psalm 92:12-14
Marilyn and I have just returned from the Calvin College 2015 Colloquium sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Vital Worship Grants Program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 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 religion, education, and community development.
The Grants Program seeks to foster vital worship in congregations, parishes, and other worshiping communities in North America. It is especially focused on projects that connect public worship to intergenerational faith formation and Christian discipleship, a theme that can unfold in many facets of worship from Bible reading to preaching to baptism and Lord’s Supper, intercessory prayer, congregational song, visual arts, and more.
The project directors for all 29 grants gathered on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with the CICW staff, but also with the recipients of 2014 grants, who came back to campus to share the results of their year-long projects.
Pinnacle was awarded a $12,000 grant for “implementing an alternative worship service that includes an innovative and participative liturgy using musical styles from around the world that appeal to all ages”.
Thanks to members of the Alternative Worship Committee, several months of grant writing proved successful in the eyes of the Calvin advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds who assisted in the grant selections.
We were absolutely amazed at the creativity that was brought to this colloquium. We felt like Jonah did when he was consumed by the whale – “a little fish in a big pond”! Here are a few of those projects:
- A congregational project in New York to explore storytelling in worship through stories from scripture, congregational history, and the individual lives of disciples of Jesus Christ.
- An effort in California to renew a Spanish-speaking worshiping community through communal practices of worship connected to art, dance, hospitality, and service.
- A regional plan in Michigan to equip congregations to welcome persons into a community of faith and prepare them for a lifelong journey of discipleship beginning with baptism, through an immersion event and a mentoring program.
- A project in Chicago to explore ways to leverage a congregation's worship and missional priorities and promote a greater commitment to discipleship and service through studies and events related to worship and justice.
- A collaborative venture in Minnesota to deepen understanding and develop creative practices of communion and community in gathering around the table with people of other Christian denominations.
- A congregational plan in Colorado to create participatory worship experiences utilizing visual, musical, and dramatic arts to promote a multi-sensory awareness of God’s presence, especially for the deaf community.
As we move forward to the fall and begin implementing the goals of this grant, we have learned that God is faithful, and we can be led by Him to places and opportunities beyond our imagination.