Saint John’s Abbey among Vital Worship Grant Recipients from Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has announced that it will be funding 51 Vital Worship Grants for 2019-2020 as part of its Vital Worship Grants Program, including a grant to Saint John’s Abbey and its partners.

These projects have a variety of emphases – visual arts, storytelling, multicultural worship, digital media, the Lord’s Supper, and more – but have as a common purpose a desire to both deepen people’s understanding of worship and strengthen practices of public worship and faith formation.

The grant awarded to Saint John’s Abbey, which is a joint project with the Diocese of Saint Cloud and Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, has as its goal the promotion and enhancement of congregational singing. This is in conjunction with the expansion of the abbey pipe organ to be nearly twice as big, including the addition of a fourth manual. The work on the 1961 Holtkamp instrument is being carried out by Pasi Organ Builders in Roy, Washington. Installation of new pipe work will begin late this summer, with the expansion project expected to be completed in the coming school year.

 Among the events taking place in St. John’s Abbey’s grant project are an address by hymnologist Paul Westermeyer; a workshop in leading congregational song for organists, pianists, and singers; residency of organist Jan Kraybill, former president of the Hymn Society, including a workshop, concert, and hymn fest; and a residency of organist Bill Chouinard in conjunction with a hymn festival with the National Catholic Youth Choir and the Minnesota All-State Lutheran Choir.

This year’s recipients of Vital Worship grants include 34 congregations, three elementary and/or secondary schools, two colleges and universities, three seminaries, and nine other groups, including five church collaboratives, two parachurch disability ministries, a military ministry, and a storytelling ministry. They also represent 23 different Christian denominations, 22 states and two Canadian provinces.

Each grant (ranging from $7,000 to $18,000) will fund a year-long project beginning in June that promotes vital worship and faith formation. John Witvliet, director of the CICW, believes that the 2019 projects will help the Worship Institute in its goals to enhance the scholarly study of Christian worship and the renewal of worshiping communities across North America and beyond. “We learn a tremendous amount from these programs,” he said. “We look forward to sharing insights from these projects with a larger audience in our future programming over the next several years.”

This June, project directors and representatives of all 51 grants will gather on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with CICW staff, but also with 14 recipients of new grants to Teacher-Scholars as well as recipients the 2018 Worshiping Communities grants, who will come to campus to share the results of their year-long projects at a poster session that is open to the public (5:00-6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 26, 2019). “The grants event is always an energizing time of conversation and sharing stories,” said Smith. “Every year, some attendees are inspired to write their own proposals for new grant projects. We look forward to receiving those applications for the next round of grants” (due January 10, 2020).

Since it began in the year 2000, the Vital Worship Grants Program has now awarded 887 grants to churches, schools and organizations across North America for projects that generate thoughtfulness and energy for public worship and faith formation at the local, grass-roots level. An advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assists in the grant selections, and the program is generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment’s major areas of programming are religion, education, and community development.

For more information on the grants program, including a complete list of this year’s grants recipients, please see

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