Churches Spend $750,000 for Worship Renewal

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After spending $750,000 in worship grants, recipients gathered in late June to share their experiences.

Laughter and conversation filled the Calvin College Fieldhouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., as people showcased their programs and projects. The grants came from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship funded by a Lilly Endowment grant for worship renewal

Projects included incorporating art, drama, liturgical dance, or sign language into worship; including people with disabilities; and making worship intergenerational or interracial.

“Worship renewal crosses borders of age, race, and denomination. When a congregation focuses on worship renewal, there are surprising things that happen in terms of relationships deepened and relationships with God deepened,” said Betty Grit, program manager of the Worship Renewal Grants Program.

Randy Lopez of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Kan., spoke with enthusiasm of his church’s transformation from a “traditional, English-speaking white church” to a biracial (Hispanic and Anglo) church.

“It’s been exciting, very exciting,” Lopez said. “Every Sunday I get pulled over after church to help translate a conversation.”  The church’s grant helped pay for retreats, speakers, and worship-related equipment to ensure the church was united and prepared to meet its goal of becoming a diverse community that reflected its neighborhood.

The Lilly grant is due to expire in 2008, but Grit said the program will continue if further funding is found. Each year, about $750,000 gets distributed between 50 to 60 churches and organizations. More information is available at

About the Author

Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who lives in the woods with her artist husband James and their five children in Hillsborough, North Carolina. They are members of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham.