Dordt College News

Calvin, Worship, and the Arts Workshop held

November 4, 2009

Calvin, Worship, and the Arts

Just how does one observe the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin?

At Dordt College, the event was noted with a Calvin, Worship, and the Arts Workshop, hosted by Dordt’s Andreas Center and Music Department on November 5 and 6.

A performance of “A Symphony of Psalms” by the acclaimed Boston Camerata launched the weekend of events, offering a program of Genevan Psalms and Psalm-based music from the Reformation era. The musical settings included psalms of supplication, psalm of praise, and psalms of wisdom and grace.

Guest speakers and workshops followed on Saturday, each focusing on comparisons and contrasts between early Genevan and present day worship practices. A dozen guest speakers from Dordt College, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Back to God Ministries International, and the Reformed Worship journal gave presentations at the conference.

Keynote addresses were given by Dr. Karin Maag, director of the Meeter Center at Calvin College, and Dr. Duane Kelderman, Professor of Preaching and Vice President for Administration at Calvin Theological Seminary and co-author of Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture.

Maag described how, after the official acceptance of the Reformation in Geneva in 1536, Calvinistic practices were implemented in the formerly-Catholic community in Geneva. She noted challenging changes such as presenting sermons instead of observing mass; speaking in French instead of Latin; singing Psalms instead of listening to choral and organ music; and removing statues and frescos from sanctuaries as a guard against idolatry.

“The process of change was hard,” noted Maag, just as it is in present day worship.

Continuing upon the theme, Duane Kelderman shared a “helicopter view” of modern worship in the Christian Reformed Church as seen from his post at Calvin Seminary. Kelderman noted some remarkable shifts, such as using the arts in worship, but sees many strong Calvinistic “accents” continuing to shape and nurture Christian worship.

Calvinist accents noted by Kelderman included deep respect for Scripture as the inspired Word of God; an affinity for beginning our story at creation; an emphasis upon grace and what God has done; a rich sense of covenant between God and His people; recognition of the Holy Spirit as the source of empowerment in Christian life; gratitude for what God has done for us; a commitment to the church as the body of Christ; an antithesis conviction that he who is not for is against; and a sense of vocation and holy calling on our lives.

Workshops following the addresses explored all aspects of worship, from the use of visual arts and media technology to new contemporary songs.

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