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.

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150 Ways to Talk to God: Introducing Kids and Teens to the Psalms

Laura Keeley, Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church
Robert J. Keeley, Calvin College

The Psalms are vital in the life of Christians, but children and teens have a difficult time understanding this emotionally charged book. We will talk about ways to help kids and teens learn more about the Psalms in worship, in the classroom and at home.

Accessible Organ Repertoire for Service Playing

John Ferguson, St. Olaf College

We’ll look at, listen to, and discuss useful organ repertoire for use in worship from all periods of music, up to and including today.

Artists in Conversation

Sandra Bowden
He Qi

In this workshop, art by well-known Chinese Christian artist He Qi (and other artists) will be viewed and discussed with him, especially with special attention to the use of visual images in worship. Questions will include the process he follows, also when working from a biblical story; how artists can help congregations view works of art more deeply; and how congregations can make good choices for choosing art to project in worship.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper Renewal Stories

Betty Grit, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Worship Renewal Grant recipients from diverse congregations will describe what they are learning about sacramental practices that nurture and strengthen faith in people of various ages and cultures.

Baptism in Art, Ritual, and Symbol

Robin M. Jensen, Vanderbilt University

Using the resources of ancient texts, architectural remains, and visual art, this workshop aims first at uncovering baptism’s meaning for the first generations of Christians who received it and then at how that information can enrich our teaching about, preparation for, and practice of Christian baptism today.

Beyond the Bamboo Curtain: New Asian Songs for Worship

Swee Hong Lim, Emmanuel College
I-to Loh, Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology
Joel Navarro, Calvin College

This singing and conversational session will introduce new Asian songs collected in recent years along with their background stories and how these might be used in the context of worship. The Companion to the Sound the Bamboo (GIA, 2011) as well as music handouts will serve as catalysts for the conversation.

"Blessed are the Persecuted": Planning Multiethnic Worship, Highlighting Resources form the Suffering Church

Emily R. Brink, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Josh Davis, Proskuneo
Robin Harris, International Council of Ethnodoxologists
Tala Jarjour, University of Notre Dame
Jean Ngoya Kidula, University of Georgia-Athens
Swee Hong Lim, Emmanuel College
I-to Loh, Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology
Paul Neeley
Anne Zaki, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

This seminar will explore the use of visual art, scripture reading, video, responsive reading, story, poetry, drama, and song from our brothers and sisters in Christ who often find joy and hope in the midst of suffering. Resources from around the world will expand your vision and provide many resources and practical ideas for worship in your local contexts.

Building Better Partnerships

Norma de Waal Malefyt, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Howard Vanderwell, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

This is an interactive workshop to explore together how to build better worship-planning partnerships. What are the best strategies for working together week after week? Who should be involved? What are the pitfalls to beware of? What can/should each bring to the planning workshop?

Convergence and Consumption: The Digital Age and a New Ecology of Worship

Shane Hipps

Worship is a product of culture; and culture is born of technology, media, and communication patterns. Every new technology creates a new cultural ecology—a shift which creates fresh, but often unconscious, expressions and theologies of worship. This presentation explores the major historical shifts in technology and their dramatic impact on worship in the church. The digital age immerses us in a state of phenomenal complexity, convergence, and consumption. It is radically shaping the present and future of worship. Too many of us are completely unaware of their true effects.

Different Views of the Christian Sacred Meal in the Early Church

Robin M. Jensen, Vanderbilt University

This workshop will look at the richness and diversity of models of the meal that Jesus instituted on the night he was betrayed, evident in the New Testament narratives as well as in the history of the church: 1) Communion Meal; 2) Memorial Meal; 3) Covenantal Meal; 4) Thanksgiving Meal; 5) Sacrificial Meal; and 6) Eschatological Meal.

Global Resources for Integrating the Arts into a Missional Life

Robin Harris, International Council of Ethnodoxologists
Brian Schrag, Summer Institute of Linguistics International

This workshop will feature resources to foster creativity and expand understanding of the intersection of worship, culture, and mission in your church or school setting. We’ll explore a new two-volume ethnodoxology handbook and manual (with DVD) for worship and mission in the global church. The authors/editors of these publications will offer ways you can benefit from them, whether planning and leading worship or teaching a Sunday School or college class.

Go Down, Moses: Spirituals as a Resource for Preaching

Luke A. Powery, Duke University

The history of African American spirituals is interwoven with the history of preaching, yet these spirituals and their relationship to preaching usually receive little attention. This workshop will explore these spirituals as musical sermons that can serve as a resource for contemporary preaching. In particular, what the spirituals teach us about preaching as social witness will be discussed.

Happy Birthday, Heidelberg!

Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Calvin Theological Seminary

2013 marks the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. We will explore the unique qualities of this beautiful Reformed expression of the Christian faith and introduce new tools by which the Heidelberg Catechism can continue as a vital tool for faith formation in the church today, including M. Craig Barnes’ new book on the Catechism, Body+Soul.

How People Change

Duane Kelderman, Calvin College

Anyone working with congregations knows that change is difficult and deep change in people and organizations is rare. How do people and organizations change? This workshop describes four things that take place whenever people or organizations have significantly changed, and gives practical advice for leaders trying to facilitate such change.

Inviting Children to the Table

Syd Hielema, Redeemer University College

An exploration of ways to strengthen children’s faith development through participation in the Lord’s Supper. This workshop, a shortened version of Thursday Seminar 11, will explore approaches, guidance and resources for congregational leaders who seek to have the sacraments be more richly nourishing to young and old.

Inviting Children to the Table

Jill Friend
Syd HIelema, Redeemer University College
Patricia Nederveld
David Schuringa
Howard Vanderwell, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Many Christian traditions are exploring ways to strengthen children’s faith development through participation in the Lord’s Supper. This session, led by members of the Christian Reformed Faith Formation Committee, will explore their approaches and will provide guidance and resources for congregational leaders who seek to have the sacraments be more richly nourishing to young and old.

Learning to Lead Worship through Mentored Experiences

Paul Ryan, Calvin College

Leading worship is so often a skill learned on the go. Classroom instruction is significant, while a great deal of learning also takes place through regular practice and reflection. We’ll explore the ins & outs of learning to plan and lead worship through mentored experiences which develop habits of ongoing learning and growth in worship leadership. Come, both experienced leaders and those learning the nuts & bolts of worship leadership, to an interactive exploration of mentored learning.

Making Worship Videos: Learning with and from Film Makers

Brian Fuller

Filmmakers seldom feel welcome where their product, process, and heroes are misunderstood (or worse – condemned from the pulpit). Discuss how church leaders can channel these influential artists to contribute videos of beauty and spiritual significance.

Memory and Imagination: Shaping Music's Past, Present, and Future

Randall Bradley, Baylor University

Memory and imagination are key ingredients in shaping the church’s music and its worship. This workshop will explore the roles of memory and imagination in informing our daily lives, our lives as ministers in the church, and as a launching place for imaginative thinking about music in the church.

Moving Worship: How to Create Movement

Julia Start Fletcher, Millbrook Christian Reformed Church

We will study different ways to choreograph and create movement for specific parts of a worship service that could include entire congregations, children, pedestrians (non-dancers), as well as dancers.

Moving Worship: What is Liturgical Dance?

Julia Start Fletcher, Millbrook Christian Reformed Church

We will answer the question in the title as well as consider the following question together: How can dance fit effectively into the liturgy without a focus on performance?

Multiethnic Worship: More than Just Global Songs

Josh Davis, Proskuneo Ministries

Visual art, scripture reading, video, responsive readings, and the list goes on. We will consider elements of a worship service (other than corporate singing) and how they can be intentionally multi-ethnic. We will give lots of practical examples that you can use right away in your local church contexts.

Multigenerational, Multicultural Worship: Stories of Renewal from Worship Renewal Grand Recipients Handout

Betty Grit, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

When people of all ages and cultures are invited to bring their gifts to plan and lead worship through music, spoken word and the arts, transformation begins. Leaders from diverse congregations will offer practical ideas that have engaged people of various ages and cultures and tell us what they have learned.

Navigating Worship Conflicts with Grace and Truth

Syd Hielema, Redeemer University College

Leadership inevitably evokes conflict. St. Paul advises us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12.18). In other words, we cannot eliminate conflict, but we can deal with it wisely. This workshop will ponder the dynamics of worship conflicts, and suggest steps for navigating through them.

Planning Worship with

Greg Scheer, Church of the Servant

In recent years, an explosion of resources and music styles has made worship planning an almost overwhelming task. can help tame this process, allowing planners to search for songs by scripture, meter, lectionary, etc, and then narrow searches by denomination or year, and even restrict results to those hymnals in your own collection. This session will review the basics of using, highlight new developments such as “featured hymns” and a streamlined user interface, and show how Hymnary. org can kickstart your worship brainstorming.

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

David Crump, Calvin College

Jesus intended the prayer that he taught his disciples, which we call “the Lord’s Prayer,” to be a model prayer for their own devotion. In this workshop we will examine the meaning of each petition in its original setting and what it means for us to repeat these petitions today.

Rethinking Christian Community: Moving Beyond our Ideals and Disappointments

Christine Pohl, Asbury Theological Seminary

Plenary Address by Christine Pohl.

Revealing God’s Word through Dramatic Presentations of Scripture

Randall Buursma, First Christian Reformed Church
Todd Farley

God reveals himself through his Word; are there ways to present God’s Word in worship that also contribute to God’s revelation? We will explore varied dramatic ways of presenting Scripture using passages from the Sermon on the Mount, showing how one congregation spent several weeks this past fall in a series on Matthew 5-7, exploring the meaning of the text and creating ways to present these words in worship under the leadership of their pastor and coach. Participants will actively engage in these approaches and develop strategies to consider ways they could implement a similar approach in their own congregations.

Songs of Celebration and Contemplation from East Africa

Jean Ngoya Kidula, University of Georgia-Athens

Many peoples in different parts of the world are usually introduced to the performance of Christian religious song that emanates from the cultural and other background of those who initially bring the gospel to them. In many parts of Africa, these were the songs of missionaries from Europe or the Americas. However new songs have also been composed that bear the ‘missionary’ style, or embrace the various other musical languages of the converts. Among the most utilized in East Africa are songs in Kiswahili language. In this workshop, we will examine and perform some Christian songs of contemplation and celebration in Kiswahili language. We hope that they will enrich the worship practice of participants from North America and other parts of the world.

Soul Recreation: Enjoying God with Heart and Mind

Tom Schwanda, Wheaton College

This workshop will explore ways to integrate both the intellectual and affective nature of experience of personal devotional life, public worship, and Christian service. Our guide will be Isaac Ambrose (1604-1664), an English Puritan pastor who examined the dynamics of knowing God through the heart and mind, including his celebration of the Lord¹s Supper.

The Church as Community

Todd Cioffi, Calvin University

Currently, there is much talk about the importance of “Christian community.” What is meant by that; is it the same as the “church”? Is it possible to have one without the other? A panel of Calvin College students will address what Christian community means to them, how it relates to the church, why it matters in the world, and how they may think differently about the church and Christian community than previous generations. They will also reflect on the significance of worship in terms of establishing and maintaining Christian community both within and beyond the church’s walls.

The Sermon on the Mount: Preaching, Teaching, and Living in Righteousness

Kenneth E. Bailey, Ecumenical Institute
Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Calvin Theological Seminary
Christine Pohl, Asbury Theological Seminary

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount contains some of the most famous verses in Scripture. Even people without a Bible have heard of the golden rule, the Lord’s Prayer, and, possibly, the Beatitudes. Even libertines quote one verse from the Sermon: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” But the Sermon on the Mount yields its greatest riches when good scholars and teachers dig them up for us and help us estimate their value. Kenneth E. Bailey and Christine Pohl are excellent diggers and their seminar will help participants to understand themes from the Sermon and to consider their power and beauty for preaching, teaching, and life in Christian community.

The Shape of Discipleship in the Contemporary Worship Movement

Steven Guthrie, Belmont University School of Religion
John Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Brad O'Donnell
John Thompson

Over the past forty years, the Contemporary Worship Movement has reshaped worship practices in a wide variety of regions, denominations, and cultures. A recognized movement emerged through the influence of hosts of people, institutions, and cultural factors, including songwriters, congregations, publishing companies, educational institutions and more. This seminar will explore this fascinating story, with particular attention on the theme of discipleship. What examples of faithful discipleship stand out in this movement? What challenges to discipleship have participants in this movement experienced? Most crucially, what does the shape of Christian discipleship look like today for industry executives, songwriters, worship leaders, pastors, and— above all—contemporary worshipers of all kinds?

The Taizé Community: Music and Prayer

Brad Berglund, Illuminated Journeys

This nuts and bolts workshop will focus on the music of the Taizé Community and their unique practice of sung prayer. Using the published resources available to us, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to create a Taizé-style prayer service, lead the music, choose scripture readings and involve soloists and instrumentalists.

Theological Issues in Popular Praise-Worship Texts

Bert Polman, Calvin College

This workshop will include a report and discussion of a theological analysis project of some 290 most popular Praise-Worship song texts and their relationship to the currently prevailing version of Christianity which sociologists of religion have called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Church Sound Systems

Greg Scheer, Church of the Servant

Of the many hats worship musicians and pastors wear, “sound system purchaser and troubleshooter” may be the most uncomfortable. Nonetheless, your understanding of how a sound system works could have a huge impact on your congregation’s ability to hear the preaching and take part in singing. This session you will teach you about microphones, channel strips, speaker placement, and a myriad of other subjects that likely weren’t included in your seminary or music education.

Welcoming the Arts in Worship

Betty Grit, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Worship Renewal Grant recipients will describe how engaging people of all ages and cultures in leading worship through dance, music, video, and visual art is bringing renewal in worship.

What Can We Learn From the Early Church About Worship?

Marva Dawn, Regent College

Those who were the closest to Jesus in time can teach us important things about worship. In this workshop we will look at the forms that were used in the earliest centuries of the Church to contemplate how we might use those elements in our worship today.

Worship Across the Racial Divide: Is Music the Gateway to Diversity?

Gerardo Marti, Davidson College

Is worship music important for establishing a racially and ethnically diverse church? Research from successfully diverse congregations will dispel dangerous stereotypes and provide leaders with critical insight on how liturgical structures can build an authentically interracial community.

Worship in 1 Corinthians: Paul's Take on the Corinthian Worship Wars

Kenneth E. Bailey, Ecumenical Institute

Plenary Address by Kenneth E. Bailey.

Worship in Difficult Times

Kathy Smith, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Has your church endured a crisis, a transition, or a conflict? If not, it will! All congregations eventually experience difficult times. This workshop will explore themes and resources for worship in times of crisis, transition, and conflict; and will provide advice for church leaders as they guide their congregations through the turbulence of difficult times.