Adejoke Ayoola, nursing professor at Calvin College, shares insights from her research with attendees of CICW's inaugural "Taking Your Church to College" event in June 2016.

CICW launches new program that aims to strengthen worship through scholarship

August 7, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— In August 2018, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) is expanding its Vital Worship Grants Program, creating greater opportunity for teacher-scholars from across North America to share their expertise with the church.

This month, the Vital Worship Grants Program introduced a second stream of grants: the Teacher-Scholars program, which seeks to foster vital worship by supporting teacher-scholars in any field as they do integrated research that connects worship with other disciplines of study and practice. The goal is to advance the flourishing of Christian public worship practices in worshiping communities.

“At Calvin, we believe that our teaching, research, and collaborative learning are not ends in themselves, but serve a larger redemptive purpose in God's world,” said John Witvliet, director of CICW.

The new stream of grants is enfolded in an already successful Vital Worship Grants Program, one that since its founding in 2000 has supported more than 800 year-long projects of learning related to worship for leaders in worshiping communities across North America.

Leaders say the addition of this new stream of grants will help CICW lean more fully into its mission of both promoting the scholarly study of worship and contributing to the renewal of worship in North American congregations.

“At CICW, our mission is to promote the renewal of worship through our learning together over time. The insights of teacher-scholars in many fields can be source of profound wisdom for congregations,” said Witvliet.

And much like the Worshiping Communities stream of grants, the new Teacher-Scholar grants will glean that profound wisdom from a wide range of voices—scholars in any field who teach at an accredited seminary, divinity school, college or university that is a non-profit organization in North America.

"We are deeply hopeful that this program will continue to extend our ecumenical and cross-cultural engagement, helping us learn from and with Christians in many traditions and in many cultural contexts,” said Witvliet. “We all need each other in the body of Christ."

Application for the first round of grants runs through October 1, 2018. Up to 30 grant recipients will be notified of their selection in early December 2018, and the cohort will officially kickoff their one-year grant cycle at the Vital Worship Grants annual event in June 2019. There, they will be able to interact with leaders in the worshiping communities who are beginning and/or completing their grant cycle. They will then present their scholarly research a year later in June 2020.

The program is made possible through the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc., with grants ranging from $8,000 to $18,000.

Learn more about the Vital Worship Grants Program.


CICW, located at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an interdisciplinary study and ministry center that promotes 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. CICW partners with congregations, organizations, and publishers to further its mission.


Matt Kucinski
[email protected]
(616) 526-8935