For over 35 years, the Calvin Symposium on Worship has annually gathered together worshipers from many Christian traditions across Canada, the US, and beyond, bringing together people from a variety of roles in worship and leadership, including pastors, worship planners and leaders, musicians, scholars, students, worship bands and teams, organists, visual artists, preachers, chaplains, missionaries, liturgists, council and session leaders, and more. Cosponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, the Symposium aims to encourage leaders in churches and worshiping communities of all sizes and settings.

Subscribe to RSS Feed (Opens in New Window)


2007 Program for Calvin Symposium on Worship: Word, Music, Vision, Action

We hope that this symposium will be spiritually refreshing for all of you. One of the main goals of the Worship Symposium is to be encouraged together by what God is doing in congregations across North America and beyond, and to learn to ask helpful questions about our own worship practices that focus our attention on the deep meaning and purpose of worship. We expect that we will also learn something more about how to preach, pray, and sing with greater understanding for those in our own communities and around the world where violence brings so much suffering. Many were not able to come to this Symposium–the church in prison, which is small but part of the body of Christ, and we mention with sorrow that to date 15 people from other countries tried to come this year, but were denied visas during these tense days of international terrorism and fear.

Each year, people ask us if there is a theme for the conference. And we always say that there is not, since so many sessions cover so many areas. But if there is any theme that has shaped our planning for this Symposium, it is the glory of God–words which come easily to our minds and voices, words common in our songs and prayers, but an inexhaustible theme. This year, we hope that you come away with new glimpses of the glory of God that will fill you with joy and anticipation for your work back home and for the day we will see God face to face.

Beholding to Transforming: Beauty and the Arts

Frank Burch Brown, Christian Theological Seminary
Lisa De Boer, Westmont College
Susan Felch, Calvin College
Linda Witte Henke
Eric O. Jacobsen, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Debra Rienstra, Calvin College
Laura Smit, Calvin College
Mark Torgerson, Judson College

New York artist Mako Fujimura once asked if a tree is more beautiful in full bloom or just as the pedals begin to fall when a breeze passes by.... What does scripture mean when it speaks of beauty? How does this affect our engagement with the arts in worship? Part of our challenge in congregations is that everyone comes to worship with such a different understanding of what is beautiful and how much it really matters. This day will probe how we might more meaningfully convey the "glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" in this challenging environment.

Collaboration and Team Building in Worship and Arts Ministries

Norma de Waal Malefyt, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
John Ferguson, St. Olaf College
Rory Noland, Heart of the Artist Ministries
Robert Nordling, Calvin College
Paul Ryan, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Howard Vanderwell, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

In this day we will discover how worship and arts ministries thrive in the cradle of collaboration and teams. From conception to realization of a worship service, the Spirit of God unites individuals and groups for creative, thoughtful, and formative experiences. In these moments community is built, character is formed, competency increases, and our unique callings are affirmed. Pastors, musicians, artists, choral directors, worship team leaders, planners, etc.–all who work collaboratively or desire to develop the collaborative potential of their ministries are encouraged to participate in this seminar.

Connecting Disconnected Young People through Worship

Darwin Glassford, Calvin Theological Seminary

Throughout history, we've always been concerned about our youth. The reality is, we still are. If we think about it, the question is "why aren't they coming back?" But it's the wrong question. The question should be "why do they leave in the first place?" One of the challenges we face is asking the right questions, as the questions determine where we end up.

Crafting Prayers and Other Words for Worship

Debra Rienstra, Calvin College

This workshop is meant to inspire us to consider our use of words in worship, and goes along with Debra Rienstra's book - an excerpt from the synopsis below.

"Words have great significance. They both form and inform us. They convey meaning and shape understanding. They express our highest thoughts and our deepest emotions. But because of their ubiquity, words are easily taken for granted.... [The] goal is to help students, pastors, and worship leaders come to a renewed appreciation and understanding of words in worship and to inspire them to use words more intentionally–to the greater glory of God and the greater blessing of God's people."

Creative Accompaniments to Enliven the Congregational Songs

Christina Mandang, Jakarta Theological Seminary

It is very often said that the "traditional" or "conventional" hymns are boring. One of the main reasons why the young peoples are not keen on singing the hymns is because of the accompaniment. Actually, with some basic knowledge about improvisation and using some percussion, we can enliven our accompaniment.

Embracing Our Inheritance: Appreciating and Maximizing Our Worship Environments

Mark Torgerson, Judson College

This workshop is to help us think through some of the larger issues in relationship to pursuing the renewal of our worship through our built environment. Along the way we should think intentionally about hanging onto those artifacts that are working really well that we need to maintain for memory, continuity, and our communities. We also need to maintain a physical location where we can go as community to celebrate together, which is why we also need to consider our geographical location in time and space.

Gender Issues in Worship

Alice Mathews, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

I wanted to begin just being clear that worship is celebrating the work of God. AT the same time, you cannot ignore gender, as every one of us in this room is a gendered being. In Genesis 1:27, it tells us that God created us as male and female in the divine image. ... Scripture implies but does not spell out that the full image of God requires the action and worship of both male and female. Worship is never carried out by generic human beings.

Healthy Tensions in Corporate Worship

Bob Kauflin, Sovereign Grace Ministries

How many of you have experienced some tension in your church regarding worship styles? Basically, this seminar came about as a result of studying worship for the past 10 years or so. A lot of times people choose sides on issues that need both sides. This is what we tend to do, we find something that has worked for us and say this is the way that we must do it, and rather than seeking to understand each other, read Scripture, or learn from each other, we just fight. There are seemingly paradoxical ways we need to think about worship.

Heavenly Harmonies for Worship Team Vocalists

Greg Scheer, Church of the Servant

Adding vocal harmonies to worship songs can sound lovely, but it is not easy to do well. In this session, worship team leaders and vocalists will learn how to create vocal harmonies for everything from two voices to full choir. Participants will sing and see each example.

Helping Children Worship

Steve Burger, Evangelical Covenant Church

This is intergenerational worship, including children in worship. How many of us have all the generations together in worshIp? It's very interesting, because in the past this was the way it was always done. Over time, we seem to have separated back out and now we need to focus on bringing them back together. We're going to focus on children since that seems like the biggest issue when bringing the generations together. No one ever questions the inclusion of adults.

Hymn of the Day

Paul Westermeyer, Luther Seminary

For centuries, the voices of diverse Christian congregations have been empowered by shared, ecumenical hymns. In Let the People Sing: Hymn Tunes in Perspective, Paul Westermeyer provides a broad overview of selected hymn tunes, analyzing each for genre, earliest sources, creativity, and congregational appeal. Westermeyer completed a survey of 14 modern, multi-denomination English-language hymnals to find the tunes most representative of those sung in today's church. Organized chronologically, this study moves form the earliest tunes to those of the late 20th century. Although not encyclopedic in nature, Let the People Saying was inspired by Erik Routley's comprehensive work The Music of Christian Hymns, to which reference is often made. This workshop focuses on the closing chapter, which includes a Hymn of the Day sequence.

Hymns Within the New Testament and Worship Today

Dean Deppe, Calvin Theological Seminary

Hymns teach people something. They tell us something about God, part of His character or qualities that are meaningful to us. Part of it is due to familiarity, the next generation might go back to praise songs because that's what is familiar. Sometimes with prayer songs, we say that they're repetitive, but there is something about a praise song that's simple in that it is easy and memorizable.

Just Worship

Pablo Sosa, Protestant Institute for Higher Theological Studies

The question is how to relate justice to worship. The two words in English are justice and righteousness. It is imperative to understand that where the Bible says "righteousness," very often it actually means justice. Righteousness is an individual virtue, whereas justice has more to do with social relations and the reign of God.

Knowing Our Limits: Job's Wisdom on Worship

Carol Bechtel, Western Theological Seminary

We're going to get through the book of Job and then make some applications for worship. A series of questions to ponder: Does your congregation pray regularly for others, for the world? Would anyone notice if you didn't? If you had to choose one word to describe that prayerful part of the service, what would it be?

Letting Shadows Lengthen: New Hymn Texts for Holy Week

Mary Louise Bringle, Brevard College

Ten "new" texts for Holy Week, including a song in Spanish. All hymns lyrics are listed, as well as the tune to which they are sung (if the sheet music is not also included).

Ministry among those who live with disabilities: Disability as an issue of Faith and Hope

Joan Cornelison, Hope Network Pastoral Services

An estimated 80% of families affected by disability do not attend church even though many wish they could. 8.1% of persons with disabilities seek pastoral care compared to only 4.0% of those without disabilities. 8 out of 10 people with and without disabilities consider their faith to be important to them; with approximately 65% saying their religious faith is very important. Churches have the unique opportunity to make a difference.

Moving Toward Excellence With Your Church Choir: Exploring 'new' and 'old' ways of improving diction, intonation, choral blend and musicality

Jeffrey S. Wilson, Greenville College

At the heart of worship is Word, font and table, surrounded by prayer and song.

Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture:

Worship is: transcultural, contextual, countercultural, and cross-cultural.

On Divine Glory: An Expanded Conversation on the Conference Theme

John D. Witvliet, South Bend Christian Reformed Church

This theme arises out of the basic conviction that long-term worship renewal is best sustained not merely by attention to technique or style, but rather by attention to the triune God we worship. Indeed, we should worry a lot about the mechanics, style, and techniques of worship, but mostly in terms of how adequate they are to fittingly proclaim and approach this particular God.

Preaching as Pastoral Care

Howard Vanderwell

The multiple aims of preaching show didatic, apologetic, formation, persuasion, evangelistic, prophetic, and pastoral. This workshop emphasizes the pastoral care portion of this.

Reformation Worship and the Psalms

Paul Fields, Calvin College

Today's session is going to focus on worship in the sixteenth century. We're going to be talking about the ways in which worship changed at the Reformation, and what stayed the same, we're going to especially talk about the place of Psalms in Reformation worship, we're going to show off a number of books from our rare books collection, and we're also going to do some Psalms singing.

Sing with Me, Please!

Joyce Borger, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

A workshop offered by Joyce Borger discussing how to lead a singing activity, including considerations of how to best make activities good for children, teenagers, and adults.

The Complementary Roles of Personal Worship and Corporate Worship

Pat Zandstra, Calvin Theological Seminary

I will be talking with you this afternoon about the complementary roles of personal worship and corporate worship in spiritual formation. Let's define spiritual formation, using my favorite definition, so we can understand where I'm coming from. I like Robert Mulholland's definition: Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others. I want to try and answer the question: how does personal worship develop spiritual formation?

The Environmental Banners and Floral Arrangements in the Fine Arts Center

Chris Stoffel Overvoorde
Toon Overvoorde

Toon Overvoorde arranged the flowers for the worship services and later led a workshop on how flowers can enrich worship services. These documents are short write ups discussing the significance of the banners and floral arrangements in the Fine Arts Center.

The Glory of God and Faithful Worship

John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

This session is meant to provide a little bit of background and further and deeper theological reflection on this theme, but also to think about what kinds of questions we need to be asking as Christian communities and as local congregations about this topic.

The Nuts and Bolts of Worship Planning: A Crash Course in Collected Wisdom from 200 Congregations

John Witvliet, South Bend Christian Reformed Church

The goal of what follows is to offer every congregation, every pastor, every worship leader, two or so ideas (o.k., maybe three) that can make your work more joyful, effective, and spiritually edifying... Listen prayerfully, discerningly for what that might be for you in your context...

The Use of the Organ in "Blended" Worship: "What's in YOUR Blender?"

Mark Thallander, Glendale College

A video journey in "blended" worship from Assemblies of God, Baptist, Congregational, Foursquare, Reformed, Presbyterian and United Methodist congregations.

Thursday Seminar Schedule for January 25, 2007

A list of seminars with title, host, location, description, and participants.

What Can the Early Christians Teach Us about Music?

Calvin Stapert, Calvin College

A caution about this topic is that it is not dealing specifically with church music. When we read the church fathers and they talk about music, the assumption is often made that they must be talking about church music. This is incorrect. They did not make the distinction between church music and music in the life of a Christian. It is in that context that this workshop is presented.

Where Then Shall We Live: Location as Fundamental Choice for Christian Discipleship, Worship, and Evangelism

Eric O. Jacobsen, Presbyterian Church (USA)

This workshop conveys some ideas about where people live. We hear the term postmodernism thrown around quite a bit in church circles and ministry circles - but what does "postmodern ministry" mean? It has a lot of different definitions and nuances, but one aspect often not on the radar is geography. This is key to understanding the movement. We will also look at how geography plays a role in ministry models in general, as well as specifically the postmodern style.

Worship as Spiritual Formation

Heidi S. De Jonge, Calvin Theological Seminary
Darwin Glassford, Calvin Theological Seminary
Pat Zandstra, Calvin Theological Seminary

The introductions of Pat Zandstra, Heidi De Jonge, and Darwin Glassford, as well as the opening prayer for this panel. This is not a complete recording.