Since 2000, the Vital Worship Grants Program of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Mich. (formerly known as the Worship Renewal Grants Program) has awarded more than 600 grants to churches, schools and seminaries across North America for projects that generate thoughtfulness and energy for public worship and faith formation at the local, grass-roots level.

Now, another 31 such projects, having received $300,000 in grants from the Worship Institute with funding provided by Lilly Endowment, Inc, will join the mix as the Institute announced today its grant recipients for the upcoming year.

Among the projects:

*A multicultural mentoring program for high school and college musicians to build the liturgical capacity of the parishes in the Roman Catholic dioceses of Southern California.

*A culturally relevant drama and visual arts training program for worship leaders in prison settings in Illinois as a means of promoting a vivid awareness and heartfelt response to God.

*An effort in New York City that brings together multiple generations to plan liturgies that connect Sunday worship to daily life and enhances the liturgy through various artistic interpretations of Scripture.

All told, grant recipients for 2014 represent congregations and schools from 31 denominations in 21 states and two Canadian provinces. The group includes 22 congregations and regional church bodies; seven colleges, universities and seminaries; and two ministry organizations. An advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assisted in the grant selections.

Kathy Smith, leader of the Vital Worship Grants team, said that projects chosen this year to receive funding had some common elements.

“Vital worship is always deeply rooted in Scripture and provides many opportunities for worshipers of all ages to engage in learning and exploration,” she said. “The full, conscious and active participation of all worshipers and the formation of their faith through public worship is a common theme in our 2014 grants.”

John Witvliet, director of the CICW, added that the 2014 projects will help the Worship Institute in its own work of both the scholarly study of the theology, history and practice of Christian worship and the renewal of worship in worshiping communities across North America and beyond.

“We learn a tremendous amount from these programs—from the wisdom demonstrated in designing them and the insights gleaned from implementing and adapting them as they unfold,” he said. “We look forward to sharing insights from these projects with a larger audience in our future programming over the next several years.”

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.

For a listing of all 31 grants see:


Kathy Smith, CICW associate director and program manager for the Vital


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