Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has received a worship renewal grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The grant will fund a year-long project in which the Pittsburgh Seminary chapel program will recruit and train worship teams, each with a faculty or clergy mentor, who will meet regularly over the course of the academic year to plan a monthly chapel service, engage in theological and practical reflection on previous services, and study broader issues related to worship via book discussions and workshops by experts in the field. This is one of 28 grants totaling more than $300,000 awarded for 2013 by the CICW to churches, schools, and seminaries across North America.

“These projects have much to teach us,” said CICW Director John Witvliet, “and we are eager to learn from them. 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 Pittsburgh Theological Seminary project are grateful for the prayers and eager to get started. “In recent years, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has invested significantly in the renovation of the chapel and the renewal of the chapel program,” said the Rev. Dr. Angela Dienhart Hancock, assistant professor of homiletics and worship and the project director. “Our project is designed to continue that work of renewal by equipping chapel mentors and student worship team participants to plan thoughtful, creative, faithful, and fitting chapel services for the PTS community. By including a wider circle of people in the practice of worship planning and supporting them in their efforts to do so, it gives concrete expression to our claim that worship is central to who we are as a community. The project invites participants to think more deeply and systematically about their liturgical decisions, and encourages the integration of theological reflection and liturgical action, something we hope students will take with them into the parish.”

The CICW’s Worship Renewal Grants program is now in its 14th year and has seen more than 600 projects funded since its inception. “This year,” said Betty Grit, manager of the Worship Renewal Grants program, “the CICW received proposals from 16 denominations, 24 states, and four Canadian provinces.”

An advisory board of pastors and teachers from a variety of backgrounds assisted in the grant selection and the 28 proposals being funded represent congregations and schools from 11 denominations in 15 states and two Canadian provinces.

For the 2013 grant recipients, learning will begin in earnest this June when project directors for all 28 grants gather on Calvin’s campus to dialogue not only with CICW staff, but also with the recipients of 2012 grants, who will come to campus to share the results of their year-long project. “The getting-together of both old and new grant recipients is intentional,” said Grit, “and fruitful.” “It is an opportunity,” she said, “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 generously supported by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937, the Endowment’s major areas of concern are community development, education, and religion.

For more information on the grants program, including a complete list of this year’s grants recipients, please see www.calvin.edu/worship.

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is a graduate professional institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Founded in 1794, the Seminary is located in Pittsburgh, Pa. and more than 300 students are enrolled yearly in the degree programs. The Seminary prepares leaders who proclaim with great joy God’s message of good news in both word and deed. PTS is rooted in the Reformed history of faithfulness to Scripture and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.