Luther College awarded 2018 Vital Worship Grant

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is awarding Luther College a grant of $9,135 through its Vital Worship Grants Program, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.

The grant will support the development of a lectionary for undergraduate academic communities. The lectionary—a series of biblical lessons for reading in a worship service— will integrate the academic calendar, liturgical calendar and biblical texts that contribute to the spiritual formation of young adults and address core questions in their faith journeys.

Luther College Pastors Anne Edison-Albright and Mike Blair; faculty colleagues Gregory Peterson, professor of music and college organist, and Kristin Swanson, professor of religion; and Amalia Vagts, Luther alumna and seminarian at Wartburg Theological Seminary, comprise the grant's implementation team.

The team will work to develop a lectionary that shapes the weekly Eucharist; integrates more intentionally with weekday Chapel, evening prayer and Sunday night worship; and speaks more intentionally to questions, needs and themes of young adult faith development.

"A lectionary is probably best when it's not noticed—it's a behind-the-scenes kind of tool that worship planners use. What's going to be felt in the campus community is that the texts we're reading on Wednesday in chapel connect with the text on Sunday morning and the theme of Sunday night, and that the questions and themes connect with what's going on in their lives and in their classes, too. This shared conversation will be a source of renewal for worship and for community life in general," said Edison-Albright.

Working with student leaders throughout the process of planning, writing and implementing the lectionary, the group hopes to bring students from the different worship services at Luther into deeper conversation with each other.

The college's commitment to regular, frequent and shared worship time and space, sets Luther apart from peer institutions that are moving toward less frequent worship or that do not create an open, protected space in the schedule for gathering as a community of faith and learning. Maintaining that space and availability is important to Luther College and is echoed in the sentiments of the project team.

One of the main goals for this project is to create a lectionary that offers themes and connection points for all of the worship services at Luther, creating a sense of shared text, shared conversation and shared big questions.

"Luther College has the opportunity to gather for worship on campus five, sometimes six, times a week. That time together matters, and how we spend that time together, matters. Worship at Luther always raises important questions of faith and life. We hope this lectionary can be a tool that connects those questions and conversations across the different worship services, creating a conversation that spills out beyond the boundaries of any one worship time and becomes a larger, lasting community conversation," said Edison-Albright.

Among the 44 grants awarded, Luther is one of six colleges and universities to receive support for 2018-19. Other recipients include 27 congregations, one high school, one seminary and nine other groups. Recipients represent 17 different Christian denominations, 25 states and two Canadian provinces.

Each grant, ranging from $6,000 to $18,000, will fund a year-long project beginning in June that promotes vital worship and faith formation. John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, believes that the 2018 projects will help the Worship Institute in its goals to enhance the scholarly study of Christian worship and the renewal of worshiping communities across North America and beyond.

"We learn a tremendous amount from these programs," he said. "We look forward to sharing insights from these projects with a larger audience in our future programming over the next several years."

This June, project directors and representatives for all 44 grants will gather on the Calvin Institute campus to dialogue with CICW staff and the recipients of the 2017 grants. 

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.