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Columbia Theological Seminary receives $1.2 million grant to create ‘Wonder of Worship’ program

Decatur Tucker

Columbia Theological Seminary receives $1.2 million grant to create ‘Wonder of Worship’ program

Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur. Photo courtesy of Columbia Theological Seminary.

Decatur, GA — Columbia Theological Seminary has received a $1.24 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish “Wonder of Worship,” an initiative to prepare Christian leaders in the seminary’s degree programs and support partnering congregations in engaging children in corporate worship.

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative. According to a press release, the initiative aims to support faith-based organizations as they help kids grow in faith. Columbia Theological Seminary is one of 26 organizations participating in this initiative.

“We are grateful for the creative imagination of our team, led by Dr. Kathy Dawson, and the resourceful partnership with Lilly Endowment,” said Columbia Theological Seminary President, the Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo, Jr. “This grant will provide Columbia Seminary with another opportunity to creatively serve the Church, its leadership, and its families. This resource will provide platforms to explore innovative tools for worship leaders to experiment with new methods and ideas for children’s sake, both now and in their future.”

The “Wonder of Worship” program will create spaces for worship practice on the seminary’s campus. It will also gather partner churches in regional gatherings twice a year. The program draws on research related to best practices and ideas for nurturing children’s faith and developing new resources to equip congregations to make changes in their worship practices to be more inclusive of kids.

The initiative will also guide and support congregations as they craft their own worship elements specific to church culture. The goal is to generate enthusiasm and curiosity among those preparing for ministry and those experienced in worship leadership to experiment with new methods and ideas.

“This grant positions Columbia to move in bold, creative, and relevant ways to form Christian leaders who are committed to nurturing the faith of children and to resource and support pastors and congregations who long for more inclusive and intergenerational worship,” said Dr. Christine Roy Yoder, Columbia Theological Seminary’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “Under the leadership of Dr. Kathy Dawson and the remarkable planning team, the Wonder of Worship project will build on current research about children and faith, fuel innovative ideas, connect practitioners and experts, and develop new approaches for worship that welcome and foster the flourishing of all.”

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $32 million in grants through this invitational round of the Nurturing Children initiative. The grants are funding efforts to help organizations develop new or enhance existing programs that support congregations as they design worship services and prayer practices that more intentionally and fully engage children.

Lilly Endowment launched the Nurturing Children initiative in 2022 as part of its commitment to support efforts that strengthen the religious education and formation of children and enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.

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