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. In 2012, Services of the Word focused on the book of Psalms and the theme of “When Life is Prayer.”


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2 - The Pastoral Resources of the Psalms

Calvin Symposium on Worship
John L. Bell, Iona Community in Scotland
Emily R. Brink, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Art as Prayer

Eric Nykamp, Madison Square Church

Explore non-verbal prayer by learning about how the prayer of the eye (perception), the prayer of the hand (expression), and the prayer of the moment (the dialogue with materials) allow us to commune more deeply with God.

Calligraphy: Developing Word Pictures from the Psalms

Timothy R. Botts, Tyndale House Publishers
Betsy Steele Halstead, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

We will begin by learning the ancient style of lettering called “uncial” as a basis for your expression of a psalm. The creative process will be explored through analysis of the grammatical structure along with miming and paraphrasing the text. Design principles such as size, contrast, use of color, repetition, letterpath and letterspacing will all be explored to give you the tools for making your own word picture in the form of a small scroll. Tim will also show some of his own work in the psalms to illustrate some of these principles. All supplies for the class will be provided.

Drum Circle Worship

Eric Nykamp, Madison Square Church

This hands-on presentation explores how facilitated congregational drumming can be used in worship. All who come will be exposed to the basic facilitation techniques and make worship music together in this fun, interactive presentation. No prior drumming experience necessary!

Intentionally Inclusive Worship

Mark Stephenson, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Bill Vanden Bosch
Linda Vanden Bosch

When Rev. Bill and Lyn Vanden Bosch came to Oakdale Park Church in Grand Rapids they decided that they would stay long enough for the church to become an inclusive community. They stayed 30 years. They will help participants understand what an intentionally inclusive church looks like. It’s not about creating programs, but creating a mindset which says to each individual, “You belong.” That same mindset avoids paternalism by also telling each person, “You have something to contribute.” Workshop leaders will touch on issues relating to inclusiveness and worship, pastoral care, outreach, and fellowship.

Jazz Vespers: Playing in Tongues

Gillian Grannum

A Jazz Vesper service led by Gillian Grannum

Program Book

Calvin Symposium on Worship

Psalm 103 - Abounding in Steadfast Love

Thomas Long, Friends of the Groom
Martha Moore-Keish
Stanley Mast, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church
Alice Parker
Carlos Colón, Baylor University
Larry Visser, First United Methodist Church
Julia Start Fletcher, Millbrook Christian Reformed Church

A Service of Word and Table based on Psalm 103 with Thomas Long preaching.

Psalms for All Seasons: A Festival of Singing

Martin Tel, Princeton Theological Seminary

An evening celebrating the release of this major collection that holds promise to bring the psalms into the heart of worship. Together we will explore the full spectrum of singing the psalms crossing boundaries of time and tradition. This festival is free and open to the public.

Taize Vespers: A Journey of Praise and Prayer

Philip Chan
Yvette Lau, Anabas Ministry

Taizé vesper service led by Philip Chan and Yvette Lau

The Lord is My Shepherd: A Celebration of Psalm 23

John Bell

Vesper service based on Psalm 23 led by John Bell

The Non-Verbal Languages of Worship

Don E. Saliers, Emory University

This workshop will explore the ways in which sight, sound, taste, touch, gesture and movement animate the essentials of Christian worship. In particular we will examine the “synaesthetic” elements of ritual action where our senses “cross-over” and animate one another in the experience of grace in Word and sacrament.

The Pastoral Resources of the Psalms

John L. Bell, Iona Community in Scotland
Emily R. Brink, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

For many traditions, the Psalms are primarily one of the sine qua nons of Sunday worship, whether sung metrically like hymns in the Reformed tradition, or slotted between the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament reading as in Roman Catholic and Episcopal traditions. But to harness their use solely or primarily for liturgical purposes is almost to deny their origin as songs which spoke to God from particular experiences of delight, triumph, loss, depression or a hundred other emotions. Drawing on the breadth of expression in the Psalms, we will identify how in private pastoral encounters as in public worship arenas the psalms—spoken or sung—can minister to our deepest needs and potentials.

The Strange Silence of Songs of Justice in Contemporary Biblical Worship

John L. Bell, Iona Community in Scotland

The word justice is never far hidden in the vocabulary of the psalmists. Over half the psalms specifically use the word. But in worship today, particularly in the Western church, the word is suspect and politicised. In this workshop we look at how the global church does not share the reservations of the West, and also use examples of psalm settings which celebrate this necessary theme in our praise.

To See Thee More Clearly

Timothy R. Botts, Tyndale House Publishers

Timothy Botts will show some of his work in Scripture and explain his creative process for each of them. He will also make a large word picture of a Scripture to illustrate this method of visual meditation. After reviewing basic design principles, you will have a chance to make your own word picture using your own handwriting and printscript with simple art supplies (which will be provided).

Vesper: A Celebration of the Light of Christ

Friends of the Groom

A Vesper service led by the theater company Friends of the Groom

Why is it so Hard to Preach About Money

Craig Satterlee, Lutheran School of Theology

Putting the “M” word back into stewardship, we celebrate giving money in response to an explicit proclamation of the Gospel. This workshop’s goal is to encourage and equip pastors to preach both stewardship sermons and the topic of money as it is found in Scripture.