The grant will fund a yearlong project in which the St. Paul AME Church will invigorate and renew its worship through creative arts including dance, mime, step, drama, and visual arts.
The grant St. Paul received is one of 31 grants totaling more than $300,000 awarded for 2012 by the CICW to churches, schools and seminaries across North America.
“These projects have much to teach us and we are eager to learn from them,” said CICW director John Witvliet, “but we know too that worship renewal is not something that human ingenuity or creativity alone can produce or engineer. It is a gift of God’s Spirit, a gift for which we pray, rather than an accomplishment we achieve. So, even as we announce these grants, and as we look forward to the work these recipients will do in the coming year, we also pray.”
Local leaders of the church project are grateful for the prayers and are eager to get started.
“We are excited about the formative learning and theological reflection centered around worship that this grant will afford us,” Rev. Lemora B. Dobbs, project director, said. “We are especially grateful that the project will afford us opportunities to collaborate and fellowship with other churches and the un-churched in our community.”
While Dobbs knows the year ahead will take a lot of investment, she’s looking at the bright side of the situation.
“It’s going to be a lot of work,” she said. “But we look forward to a rewarding year that draws us closer to God as we express our adoration to the Lord. We’re planning workshops, seminars, luncheons, special worship services, and an end of the year worship arts festival. We’re elated and so blessed to be able to offer others the opportunity to participate with us and benefit from the transformative process of worship renewal we’re hoping that participation in the project will bring about.”
The CICW’s Worship Renewal Grants program is now in its 13th year and has seen more than 500 projects funded since its inception.
“This year, the CICW received proposals from 15 denominations, 25 states and two Canadian provinces,” said Betty Grit, manager of the Worship Renewal Grants program.
An advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assisted in the grant selection and the 31 proposals being funded represent congregations and schools from 12 denominations in 18 states and one Canadian province.
For the 2012 grant recipients, learning began in June when project directors for all 31 grants gathered on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with CICW staff, but also with the recipients of 2011 grants, who came to campus to share the results of their year-long project.
“The getting-together of both old and new grant recipients is intentional and fruitful,” said Grit. “It is an opportunity for learning and conversation that encourages and provides resources for worship renewal. It is a wonderful time together for the grant recipients.”
The Worship Renewal Grants Program is supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment’s major areas of concern are community development, education, and religion.
The next application deadline for the Worship Renewal Grants Program is January 10, 2013.
For more information on the grants program, including a complete list of this year’s grants recipients, please see: www.calvin.edu/worship.