All Items

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 2018, Services of the Word focused on the theme, “Jesus Did Many Other Things As Well...”: The Eastertide Gospel.

Subscribe to RSS Feed (Opens in New Window)


A Worship Celebration of Song and Scripture

Raymond Wise PhD, Indiana University
Emmett G. Price III, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Calvin College Gospel Choir

After the Benediction: Putting Faith to Work the Other Six Days

Erik W. Carter

In many churches, efforts to support people with disabilities and their families focus narrowly on what happens in their buildings for a few hours Sunday morning. Although these investments are essential, most of our lives are lived beyond the church walls. This presentation will focus on the multiple avenues through which the supports and relationships available within congregation can meet real needs in the lives of people with disabilities and their families throughout the week. We will share practical and powerful ways churches can support the flourishing of members with disabilities.

Becoming a Reconciling Community

Elena Aronson
David M. Bailey, Arrabon

Churches and Christian leaders are often overwhelmed because they feel ill-equipped to engage effectively in the ministry of reconciliation in a diverse and divided society. In this workshop, we will focus on what it looks like for a church to be committed to racial reconciliation for the long haul. We will offer five foundational practices for becoming a reconciling community. These practices, born out of the diverse and gentrifying neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, where Elena and David minister, shape the way a community pursues diversity and reconciliation. They will also paint a vision for collaborative ministry work that is only possible with sustained cross-cultural engagement.

Beyond Stigma to Hospitality: Creating a Gracious Space for People with Mental Illness

Cindy Holtrop

Worship and fellowship are sometimes difficult for people with mental illness because few people understand their experience and their needs in worship. The church’s silence can reinforce the stigma of mental illness. How can we deepen our worship practices and our language so that anyone who struggles with mental health finds space for their lament and for their longing for hope and relationships?

Brush Calligraphy: The Expressive Potential of Brush and Ink Call

Matt Plescher

Brush and ink is a uniquely individual and expressive form of calligraphy. This seminar will provide an introduction to contemporary brush calligraphy, discussion of some basic letterforms, and hands-on instruction for using easy-to-use brush pens (selffeeding, no dipping into ink or dripping). Brush pens, paper, and practice sheets will be provided. No experience necessary.

Communion Worship on Acts 1:1-11: The Ascension

Creative Leadership of Congregational Song: Tips for Organists

Jan Kraybill

The ever-expanding areas of expertise needed from organists to help congregations form into singing communities provide rich opportunity for new and creative approaches. Jan Kraybill will bring tips and techniques for organists in a variety of worship contexts. We’ll explore ways in which our instrument—a community of individual voices—can best invite and enhance vibrant congregational singing of hymns and songs across cultures and generations.

Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship

John Swinton, University of Aberdeen

Gained in Translation

Martin Tel, Princeton Theological Seminary

More and more of the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs of the church are crossing language and cultural barriers. At times these translations have resulted in awkward lyrics. This may contribute to many communities’ aversion to global hymns. Indeed, often the essence of a song can be “lost in translation.” But this need not be the case. In fact, there are many examples where much has been gained in translation, inviting us into deeper and richer expressions of faith and prayer. Together we will consider the process of translation and its promise for yielding beautiful new texts that produce fresh insights for our increasingly global church.

Growing in Intimacy with God

Tom Schwanda, Wheaton College

Healthy worship is transformative. This workshop first will explore how worship leaders, musicians, and pastors can personally grow in Christ, and then it will suggest ways that public worship can encourage similar maturity for all people.

In-Between Words

Paul Ryan, Calvin University

Scripture readings, sermons, and songs take up most of the time in a worship service. But what happens in between them is also important in the formation of healthy worshiping communities. Those little words and phrases that welcome guests, introduce songs, and prepare us to pray make a difference in encouraging full participation in worship.

John 20:24-31: Jesus Appears to Thomas

Mariachi Ágape
Paul C.H. Lim
Calvin Christian High School Orchestra

John 21:1-14: Jesus on the Beach

Fuller Theological Seminary Chapel leadership team
Cornerstone University Choir
Scott Hoezee, Calvin Theological Seminary

John: 21:15-25: Jesus Reinstates Peter

Calvin College Worship Apprentices
Emmet G. Price III, Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Let the Times Declare!: Socio-demographic Shifts and the Future of Young People in the North American Church

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez PhD, New Generation3

What are the times proclaiming? What are the demographic shifts clamoring for our ministries? By 2018, half the children under age eighteen will be “minorities” in the United States; with twenty-six percent being Hispanic. Youth are at the forefront of U.S. demographic changes, and churches need to consider this reality as a moment for us to seize! We have a unique opportunity to contribute to the healthy development and thriving of youth while walking alongside them toward an encounter with Christ—all amid a culturally and ethnically diverse society. In this interactive session filled with practical insights for ministry, we will explore together the new set of opportunities and needs that diverse young people bring to our congregations.

Los Salmos de Ascension en tiempos de violencia

Carlos Colón, Baylor University

Las comunidades de peregrinos siguen sufriendo en todo el mundo. Disturbios sociales, conflictos y guerras han causado una crisis mundial de migrantes y refugiados sin precedentes. La difícil situación de los refugiados sirios, iraquíes y de otros países del Oriente Medio sigue sacudiendo al mundo entero. Además, miles de personas de México y América Central siguen buscando refugio en los Estados Unidos para escapar de la violencia y la pobreza. Carlos Colón compartirá parte de su historia como refugiado de la guerra civil en su nativa tierra de El Salvador, y también historias de otras personas que ministran a la comunidad inmigrante. En esta sesión, se procurará realizar una lectura cristocéntrica de los Salmos de Ascensión, transitando la jornada con los ojos puestos en Jesús, y sin perder la vista de nuestro llamado al amor, a mostrar compasión y hospitalidad a las personas diferentes a nosotros y a nosotras, y a compartirles las buenas noticias, mientras seguimos a un Salvador que está lleno de gracia y verdad.

Luke 24:13-49: Road to Emmaus and Easter Evening

Princeton Theological Seminary Choir
Leanne Van Dyk

Luke 24:13–49: Road to Emmaus & Easter Evening

Princeton Theological Seminary Choir
Leanne Van Dyk

Mental Health and the Practice of Christian Public Worship: An Exploratory Conversation

Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, Hope College
Cindy Holtrop
Warren Kinghorn
John Swinton, University of Aberdeen

Sessions related to mental health are not (yet) a common feature of many conferences on worship. Yet mental-health-related concerns affect as many as one in five people overall, with one of every twenty-five people living with serious mental health challenges. What we say or fail to say about these challenges in worship settings can be profoundly formative for how Christian communities respond to these challenges. Further, decisions we make about how to shape and lead worship can do a lot to either welcome or inhibit the participation of those among us who struggle with mental health issues. This session is an agenda-setting conversation that will seek to identify key priorities for congregations in the years ahead as well as for organizations such as the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship who seek to serve and strengthen congregational life.

Ministrando a la Nueva Generación de Jóvenes Latinos

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez PhD, New Generation3

Deseamos ver a nuestra juventud crecer en su vida espiritual, sin embargo, ¿conocemos a quiénes estamos ministrando? Juntos exploraremos aspectos teológicos, sociológicos, culturales y de desarrollo humano, que nos ayudarán a interiorizarnos en la vida y necesidades de nuestra juventud Hispana en E.E.U.U. Al acercarnos a su forma de concebir la vida, encontraremos formas prácticas de ministrarles y ayudarles a conectar su fe con su diario vivir.

Models of Mentorship: Training the Next Generation of Worship Leaders

Joanna Wigboldy, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Emmet G. Price III, Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Erin Rose
Paul Ryan, Calvin University
Elizabeth Tamez Méndez PhD, New Generation3
Geoff Vandermolen, Calvin Theological Seminary

One of the most heartening developments in worship throughout North America is the emergence of many different programs designed to train and form the next generation of worship leaders. At the heart of nearly all of them are intentional efforts to engage mentees in dynamic relationships with trusted mentors who speak from their unique experiences and strengths. In this session, a panel of experienced mentors will share the models of mentoring used in their contexts, explore the implicit and explicit goals of each model, and explain how each model trains and equips mentors. Throughout the discussion, we also want to more precisely name the unique challenges of mentoring worship leaders—challenges that may be different from other areas of Christian ministry. The aim of this session is to inspire and encourage every congregation and ministry to grow in its capacity for encouraging and mentoring emerging leaders.

Mutuality in Worship: Sharing Our Stories and Gifts

Jaewoo Kim, Korean Glocal Worship Network

How can we make room in our worshipping community for people from different generations and cultural backgrounds to move beyond being passive recipients and become active participants? This workshop will focus on practical ways to involve people’s stories, songs, and gifts in our corporate worship times—all with the goal of unity in diversity. Learn from Proskuneo Ministries, a community of worship leaders and creatives from around the world, who work and worship together in the most diverse square mile in the United States.

Pastoral Litugy in Challenging Times: A Lesson from Matthew Henry's Biblical Worship

Jonghun Joo

Today’s church is vexed with questions about worship: what it is, how you do it, and what it accomplishes, to name a few. And there is no shortage of resources offering answers to these questions. So where should we turn for insight on how to apply biblical principles to the local church’s worship? This workshop offers a model of how both a solid biblical understanding and the effective practice of worship can be realized in local churches today by exploring the theology and practice of Matthew Henry’s (1662–1714) worship. Henry did not attempt to adopt one pattern of worship from previous ministers. Instead, he practiced worship in his liturgical context by creatively applying biblical principles with his own pastoral and ministerial discretion, an encouragement and model for contemporary leaders to study.

Praise God with the Dance!: A Vision for the Deep Connections between Worship and Dance

Kathleen S. Turner

What is the relationship between liturgy and liturgical dance, and how does such a relationship enhance church worship? This workshop will explore the ways in which Scripture, liturgy, and sacred song create avenues for expression and interpretation by and through liturgical dance. These avenues of movement, expression, and interpretation help to bring clarity and comprehension to both liturgy and one’s knowledge of the triune God. It will pay particular attention to the use of the body as an expressive instrument that embodies and displays reflective thought and honest emotion expressed in and through church liturgy.

Program Book 2018

Quédate con nosotros/Abide with US

Carlos Colón, Baylor University
Maria Monteiro, Baptist University of the Américas
Maria Eugenia Cornou PhD, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Mariachi Ágape

Scripture Tableau

Jeff Barker, Northwestern College
Northwestern College Scripture Arts team, Northwestern College Scripture Arts team

Our primary book is—well, it’s not just a book! The Bible is meant to get off the page in sound, image, and emotion. We’ll work on simple techniques for all age groups to use their bodies along with simple props to help see the Bible as well as hear it. This seminar will be full of activities and performances surrounding group biblical storytelling.

Serious Play: Insights from Augustine and Other Friends from the Early Church on Leading Worship and Administering Sacraments

Lester Ruth, Duke Divinity School

Have you ever participated in worship or received the sacraments in a way that they didn’t really seem to mean anything? Or (perhaps worse) have you been afraid that dullness describes your own leadership in worship and sacraments? This workshop will explore insights from Augustine and others in the early church that can break open playful, Scriptural imagination for leading in worship.

Singing Psalms Together

Martin Tel, Princeton Theological Seminary
Carlos Colón, Baylor University
Michael Joncas
Jan Kraybill
Sandra McCracken
Ed Willminton
Raymond Wise PhD, Indiana University

In the past ten years, arguably more musical settings of the psalms for congregational use have been written in more musical styles than at any other time in the history of the church (though perhaps the Internet just makes us vividly aware of all this good work!). When we sing psalms, we are letting the word of God dwell in our hearts in a remarkable way, uniting us with believers from every century and continent. In this session, we will hear the story of one of the most-sung psalm settings: “On Eagle’s Wings.” We will sing black gospel and bilingual Spanish-English psalm settings. We will explore new and emerging psalm settings in folk, pop-rock, and classical styles. And we will savor the good ways that the “hymnal of the Old Testament” is resonating in a variety of Christian communities today.

Singing Spirituals, Singing Gospel

Raymond Wise PhD, Indiana University

Come ready to sing spirituals, traditional and contemporary gospel songs, praise and worship songs, inspirational songs and children’s music. Participants will explore a range of choral works, including many compositions by Raymond Wise. This is an ideal seminar for choir directors and choir members and will provide ideas for smaller choirs with a can-do spirit.

Songs of Christian Calling: My Soul Finds Rest

Sandra McCracken
Isaac Wardell, Trinity Presbyterian Church

Songs of the Refugees


Stories of Indigenous Life

Cheryl Bear, Nadleh Whut'en, Dakelh Nation and Dumdenyoo Clan

Teaching Like Jesus

La Verne Tolbert, Urban Ministries, Inc.

Creative teaching doesn’t happen by accident! Jesus, the master teacher, is the greatest model we have for teaching that’s dynamic, engaging, and life-changing. We’ll study ten principles that shaped Jesus’s teaching and discover how following the Master affects every area of our teaching—Christian character, learning channels, lesson planning, curriculum development, and more—so that we can teach children, youth, and adults effectively.

The Coming of Esau: An Advent Story

Jeff Barker, Northwestern College
Northwestern College Scripture Arts team

The Contemplative Worship Leader

Paul Ryan, Calvin University

Parker Palmer writes, “At root, contemplation and action are the same.” For worship leaders, a deep well of spiritual practice is vital amid the activity and demands of worship leadership. But as the anxious and hurried, our spirituality is often found wanting. New and ancient patterns in Christ’s Spirit, however, are available to worship leaders, and in this workshop we will together explore how to find life and vitality in our diverse contexts and through our varied personalities.

The Creative Process: Practical Ways to Harness Creative Thinking for Any Project

Matt Plescher

Creativity in art, music, writing, worship planning, or any other endeavor is rarely something that “just happens.” Instead it comes as a result of active and exploratory strategies that lead to creative insight. Matt Plescher will draw on twenty years of painting, illustration, and calligraphy to show how anyone can harness creativity for any project. Real-world examples will include the process of creating a studio landscape painting and the challenges of a recent year-long liturgical calligraphy project. Topics discussed will include work habits, finding intersections of ideas, incubation, overcoming creative blocks, and common misconceptions about creativity. Special attention will also be given to how, in communities of faith, creativity needs to be woven into the needs of the body of believers and not be an end in itself. The concepts and strategies discussed can be applied to any endeavor or project.

The Psalms of Ascent in Times of Violence

Carlos Colón, Baylor University

Communities of sojourners continue to suffer around the world. Social unrest, conflict, and war have caused an unprecedented global crisis of migrants and refugees. The plight of Syrian, Iraqi, and other Middle Eastern refugees continues to shock the whole world. Also, thousands of people from Mexico and Central America continue to seek protection in the United States to escape violence and poverty. Carlos Colón will share some of his experiences as a refugee of the civil war in his native El Salvador as well as stories from others who minister to immigrants. In this session, we will strive for a Christocentric reading of the Psalms of Ascent, journeying with our eyes set on Jesus and keeping in sight our call to love, show compassion and hospitality, and offer good news to those different from us as we follow a Savior who is full of grace and truth.

The Work of the People in Racial Tension

Urban Doxology

The Worship Team's "Other" Instruments

Greg Scheer, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

The guitar, piano, bass, drums, and voice form the backbone of the modern worship team, but what do we do with other instruments that may be available in our churches? This session will help worship team leaders incorporate brass, woodwinds, strings, mandolins, or even accordions into their team’s sound.

Vital Spirituality: Harvesting Wisdom from History, Theology, and Ecumenical Encounter

Noel Snyder, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Mika Edmondson, CalvinTheological Seminary
Mary Hulst, Calvin University
Jennifer Powell McNutt
Tom Schwanda, Wheaton College
Leanne Van Dyk

For more than 20 years, the Reformed Spirituality Network gathered a variety of Christians in learning about vital spiritual practices from the Reformed tradition, all aimed at deepening our engagement with Scripture, our participation in worship and sacraments, and our prayershaped walk with God. This session honors the legacy of the network’s contribution by focusing on the beauty of several fundamental spiritual practices and disciplines and how they can promote deeper ecumenical relations with other Christians: contemplative Bible reading in worship and daily life; discernment of our personal and corporate union with Christ; deeper engagement with baptism and the Lord’s Supper as means of grace; the Christian year as a window into the entire scope of Jesus’s life and ministry; and Lord’s Day observance as a witness to the coming kingdom. Each presenter will reflect on historic spiritual practices and explore how contemporary spirituality can be deeply enriched both by digging deeply into the wisdom of the past within a given tradition (in this case, Reformed) and by learning from Christians in other traditions and contexts. The aim of this session is to harvest insights from history, theology, and ecumenical encounters to promote a vital Christian piety that deepens our love for God, for each other, and for the entire world God made and loves.

"We Have Seen the Lord!": Preaching the Johannine Narratives of Jesus's Resurrection Appearances

Marianne Meye Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary

In this workshop we’ll look at John’s distinctive resurrection narratives, which emphasize both the restoration of Jesus’s relationship with his disciples broken by his death and the continuity of Jesus’s relationship with and care for all his disciples across time and place amidst the obvious differences brought about by his resurrection and return to the Father.

What Makes Christian Worship Trinitarian?

Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Calvin Theological Seminary

The doctrine of the Trinity is old, deep, and mysterious. How should Christian trinitarianism manifest itself in worship—that is, beyond simple repetition of the trinitarian formula? How might deep trinitarian worship bless God and ourselves? How might it even affect the way we look at each other after worship is over?

Wisdom for Preaching, Praying, and Singing about Suffering

Mary Hulst, Calvin University
Kevin Adams
Mika Edmondson, CalvinTheological Seminary
Danjuma Gibson, Calvin Theological Seminary
Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Calvin Theological Seminary
Lisa M. Weaver, Columbia Theological Seminary

In addition to his nonviolent political advocacy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s preaching ministry regularly focused on the profound experience and trauma of unearned suffering. In a recent book on King’s preaching ministry, Mika Edmonson explores King’s insights and instinctive approaches to this tragic dimension of human experience. Responding to suffering, especially unearned suffering, is one of the most pastorally demanding tasks of all—a task that requires theological insight, spiritual poise, and the nurturing ministry of the very Comforter that Jesus promised to send us. This session will explore Christian wisdom for preaching, praying, and singing about human suffering, drawing wisdom from not only King, but from a wide range of biblical, literary, and cultural resources.

With Us, In Us, Through Us: Holy Encounters

Jan Kraybill

Word in Season

Linda Witte Henke

Join liturgical artist Linda Witte Henke in exploring how digital technologies and hands-on creativity can work together to prompt reflection on weekly lectionary texts and seasonal liturgical themes. Using a Power Point presentation rich with relevant imagery, Henke will illustrate how she uses digital design techniques to create weekly visuals for websites, social media, worship folders, and projection in worship, and how she works with liturgical arts teams to visually engage congregations in reflection on the Word in Season.

Worship 101: Singing, Praying, and Reading the Psalms in Corporate Worship

Paul Ryan, Calvin University
Worship Apprentices

As a resource for planning and leading worship, the Psalms are a fountain of wisdom and passion. The Psalms capture the breath of human experience, they guide us in our language for prayer, and they embody the heart’s most honest song before God. In this seminar—ideal for emerging worship leaders—we will explore basic principles, practices, and resources for planning and leading worship which place the Psalms at the center.

Worshiping in Spirit and in Truth

Marianne Meye Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary