The annual Worship Symposium united worshipers and worship leaders from across the globe for a time of seeking, fellowship, worship and learning at Calvin’s campus from January 26 to 28. The conference, sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and Center for Excellence in Preaching, focused on texts from Revelation and celebrated God’s sovereignty and omnipotence in a world plagued by brokenness and division.
One focus of this year’s symposium was diversity and inclusiveness. This was reflected in the variety of workshop and seminar presenters, who included Calvin faculty and staff as well as visitors from places such as South Africa, Missouri, Ireland, Germany, Argentina and California. Workshops covered a wide range of topics such as designing worship, what Bach has to do with worship, psalms of lament, bilingual singing and children and worship.
Calvin worship apprentice Luke Harkema, who was involved as a worship leader and workshop volunteer, said the symposium taught him about multicultural worship: “A worship service that draws its content of a variety of cultures is not only more welcoming but more rich and vibrant as well. It reminds the local church that we serve and international and universal God. It also allows a congregation to wholeheartedly lament with those that are facing trials everywhere from South Korea to South Africa to the South Side of Chicago.”
Many of the worship services at the symposium incorporated multicultural worship. Worshippers embraced the beautiful variety of God’s creation by praying in different languages, utilizing different physical worship practices or singing songs from a variety of cultures.
“One of the most memorable moments of leading worship was when we invited everyone to sing the doxology in their language of choice,” said Sarah Hughes, also a worship apprentice at Calvin. “Despite the different languages, our voices rose to the heavens in perfect harmony. I was moved to the point of tears as I looked out and saw the body of Christ in its fullness, people of every language, nation, and people.”
Harkema described a memorable service that included a litany led by two South African preachers and a song sung by an Argentinian choir, calling it “a taste of the new creation.”
By bringing together a vibrant community of worshippers from around the globe, the symposium encourages moments of spontaneous conversations or worship sessions. One memorable moment for Hughes was when students from a variety of colleges gathered around the piano and started singing the Spanish worship song, “Te Doy Gloria.” “It was moment of joy and community,” said Hughes, “It was a diverse group of people who just loved Jesus and it was worship in its simplest, purest sense.”
The worship symposium takes place on Calvin’s campus each January, and is open to all, worship leaders and worshippers alike.
“I would recommend the Worship Symposium to anyone that is willing to come with an open mind and the heart of a student,” said Harkema.