Calvin Symposium on Worship 2012 – Day One

Greetings from Grand Rapids, Michigan!
Having not stopped talking about it since coming back from Michigan last year, I have returned to Calvin College & Seminary’s Annual Symposium on Worship. This year is the 25th Anniversary with somewhere between 1800-2000 people attending – a record amount! This year, I am accompanied by Karen Harbison, my Supervising Minister and David McNeish who is training for the Ministry in the Church of Scotland as well!

Yesterday, after a full day’s travel, we arrived in Grand Rapids at about 5pm local time (10pm UK Time) before being driven to the hotel to dump the bags and head across the road to a beautiful Chinese meal. Bed beckoned soon afterwards…

Today has been fabulous. Our first port of call was the Calvin Seminary Chapel for worship followed by a very interesting lecture from Dr. Howard Vanderwell where we discussed ‘Worship Renewal – with a World-Wide Scope’. The aim of the Symposium is Worship Renewal, not Worship Revolution – radical change or replacement, nor is it Worship Reformation – taking something lost and bringing it back. The aim is to take what we have had until now, which is healthy and vibrant, and casting it in a way that vibrantly engages 21st Century worshippers. The goal is the same essence but revitalised…

From here we went to La Grave Christian Reformed Church, where we met Dr. Stan Mast, one of the 6 full-time ministers at La Grave for a short talk before hearing a wonderful organ recital by Dr. Larry Visser, Minister of Music and Organist.

The organ at La Grave is a incredible piece of craftsmanship. One of the first collaborations between the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut and the Allen Organ Company of Macungie, Pennsylvania. It is among the most technologically advanced instruments designed and built today and maintains the very highest standards of quality. The Austin Organ Company built the 76-rank pipe organ consisting of 4,413 pipes. The Allen Organ Company built the computerized console and 32 ranks of digital voices. The organ’s 108 ranks are divided over five manuals (keyboards) and a pedalboard, speaking from both the main chancel and the antiphonal organ located in the balcony.

The antiphonal organ also includes a Trumpet en Chamade rank of 24 horizontal gold trumpets!

After a lovely lunch, some of us went to Baker Books Store, where a 25% discount was kindly arranged for us. I managed to restrain myself and only buy a couple of books before being bussed back to the hotel and heading over to the mall across the street!

Later on in the afternoon, we went to the International Delegates Banquet at Calvin College. We were invited to wear National Dress, which we all did in some shape or form!

We then had a lovely meal before heading to the College Chapel to listen and sing along to ‘The Psalms Project‘ – a group from The Netherlands, who were absolutely fabulous. Check out the link to their website if you would like to download their sheet music for free!


I’m sorry if this all seems like an hour-for-hour account of events today, but as you can imagine, there is a lot to reflect upon/churn over before I go into any depth. As I head to bed, I leave you with these words from the Psalms, which are the primary focus of this symposium.

Psalm 134
You servants of the LORD our God,
who work and pray both day and night, in God’s own hands lift up your hands and praise the LORD with all your might.

Lift up your hands in holiness. Come bless the LORD and give him praise. Kneel down before the LORD our God
and worship him in all your ways.

The LORD God bless you from his throne,
shine down upon with his face.
He who created heaven and earth
redeems you with his love and grace.

Good night everyone!

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