ISM Congregations Project Participants Announced

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music is pleased to announce that seven congregations from all over the US have been selected to attend the first ISM Congregations Project Summer Seminar in June, 2011. Each congregation is working on a project having to do with the theme “Worshiping God in this Place.” For the seminar, leadership teams from the congregations gather with Yale and guest faculty on the Yale campus for one week to form a diverse ecumenical community of ministers, musicians, scholars, and other church leaders. The curriculum is shaped by the theme and designed to support the congregations’ individual projects, which build on their particular strengths in worship, music, and the arts; expand their capacity to serve the surrounding community; and nurture ecumenical partnerships.

A list of the congregations follows, with excerpts from their project proposals.

The United Church of Santa Fe (UCC) in Santa Fe, NM, is undertaking Shaping a Desert People to explore “the ways the experience of worship in a desert landscape can deepen and expand the relationship with God, and, in the process, enable people to live in a more caring and just relationship with this part of God’s creation.”

The project of Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, TN comprises a yearlong study of the role of children in its congregation, culminating in a weekend conference in spring 2012. “Consideration of the role of children in a faith community will compel us to develop a community that in good measure fulfills the ideal articulated in Isaiah, that is, to grant children their rightful place. This is about how attention to children will CHANGE the church!”

Come to the Banquet: Worship, Music and the Art of Hospitality is the project of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Boise, ID, drawing inspiration from Jesus’ injunction to invite to the banquet “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” Once a month, “the parish hall is transformed into a banquet hall where fine food is shared liberally with the hungry and homeless of our community around a well-set table with time for conversation and the development of bonds formed around a common meal.” The congregation seeks to grow the program both in numbers served, and in the musical and artistic offerings crucial to its identity.

Arts of the Spirit: Concerts, Classes and Collaborative Worship Planning is a program whose goal is to integrate the worship planning activities of the clergy, musicians, and educators of Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA, with the activities of their Arts of the Spirit education / performance / outreach series to extend their reach in ways that would serve the larger community and the larger church.

Luther Place Memorial Church is an historic Lutheran congregation located in downtown Washington, DC whose mission and purpose converge around biblical hospitality and social justice. Their project is 14th and Vermont: The Luther Place Sacred Commons. “We are a welcoming and diverse community that practices what we call ‘rainbow hospitality.’ Over the last year, we have been working with a group to engage our space with gardening and art, and we are advancing our vision of the land around Luther Place as a ‘Sacred Commons’.”

The St. Monica Catholic Community, of Santa Monica, CA, says: “Our Hospitality Ministry welcomes people at the doors; our Music Ministry engages the assembly and keeps people coming back; our preaching feeds the soul and inspires us to transform our world as disciples. Our project, All are Welcome: A Hospitable Community that Forms Loving Disciples to Transform the World, involves deepening our own ministry of hospitality, and learning ways in which we can share this important work with the wider community.”

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL will convene a worship conference, Sects in the City, in October 2011 to focus on two aspects of its context: its urban setting and the predominance of young adults, many in the millennial generation born after 1980. “According to a report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, one out of four Millennials claims no affiliation with a particular faith. Holy Trinity and several others of our neighborhood churches have bucked this trend. We believe we have something to share through this conference.”

The faculty for the 2011 seminar are as diverse as the congregations, and include James Abbington, Dorothy Bass, Teresa Berger, Emily Brink, Marguerite Brooks, John Ferguson, Rita Ferrone, Thomas Murray, Don E. Saliers, Bryan Spinks, and Benjamin Stewart.

More information about the faculty, the congregations, and their projects is online at

Applications for 2012 will open soon. The theme for 2012 is Keeping Time / Life Passages. For application information, see the website or call 203.432.3187.

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