As we have shared previously, a generous three-year grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations was awarded to Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry to accomplish five sustainable outcomes in connection with prayer and worship. Why Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry? Cheryl Tupper, Program Director for Religion and Health Care at the Foundations, spoke with us about the selection process. Having visited the Seattle University campus in March 2012, Cheryl spent time intentionally engaging School of Theology and Ministry faculty, staff and students.
Cheryl shared some of her impressions of the school upon her visit:
"In looking at Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry, we were impressed by how the school is able to respond to and meet the needs of a more expansive understanding of ministry and translate that into educational pedagogy very effectively. From its very roots, the school has had a commitment to theological education that is ecumenical which has further evolved to embrace an interfaith world. Students are prepared to lead in a pluralistic world. These commitments are at the core of its mission--not added tangentially to respond to trends or external pressures.?
??I was also very impressed by the passion and dedication of faculty and students and what each contributes to leadership. It was impressive hearing the students talk about learning from each other in a pluralistic / diverse setting. The school is a learning community where learning is enhanced by different experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs.?? ?
I could see that as a newer institution, in contrast to some of the older established denominational seminaries, Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry has been willing and able to ?think out of the box? rather than do things because of how it?s always been done - to think about what?s needed to prepare pastors in the contemporary context."
We asked Cheryl about why this particular grant for worship and liturgy was awarded. She shared about the factors that are taken into consideration in selecting grantees.
"We saw very clearly that Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry has to approach worship and liturgy much more carefully than a denominational seminary. The School has a distinct need to value the range of traditions present in the student body.? This provides opportunities to learn and experiment with worship and liturgy that are shared by more than one tradition but also attend to those that have specific rituals or practices."
Now at the end of the second year, significant accomplishments have been noted. The five target outcomes are as follows:
- Envision, offer, and evaluate a well-integrated pattern of public worship and prayer that builds on existing practice, but also moves into new modes and methods to prepare our students for a rapidly changing world.
- Modify administrative structures and secure the personnel and resources needed to sustain the enhancement of public prayer.
- Integrate worship and liturgy more intentionally into core classes, and help students to learn how to prepare worship aides in the new forms demanded of our times, such as the creation of prayer in a digital and social networking form that is consistent with one?s ecclesial tradition.
- Increase the school?s capacity to offer co-curricular programs that better prepare our students to lead worship and prayer competently and gracefully.
- Continue to hold an annual or bi-annual two day retreat for core faculty and adjunct faculty teaching or leading denominationally-specific formation and liturgy courses in order to deepen the intentionality of the role of worship and liturgy in the curriculum.
Many efforts are still in process for this third year of grant-funded initiatives, with the most recent updates below.
Outcome 1: Envision, offer, and evaluate a well-integrated pattern of public worship and prayer that builds on existing practice, but also moves into new modes and methods to prepare our students for a rapidly changing world.
- Offering ecumenical morning prayer daily, Monday through Friday, while school is in session.? Morning prayer services at Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry come in three distinct modes, each used within any given week: ?contemplative? with greater silences and Taiz?/Iona style repetitive chant; ?free church? ? with brief sermon on one of the scripture readings of the day; and ?classical? daily office or liturgy of the hours with psalmody and canticles.? In addition, afternoon worship services are offered every other or every third week throughout the academic year.? Many of these services were led by students of our partner denominations under the direction of their liturgical chaplains, and the school?s Director of Worship worked with liturgical chaplains and students from our partner churches to plans these worship services. For the first time, the school?s ecclesial partners met in ?clusters? of 3 to 5 denominations, one each quarter, with worship following each cluster meeting. Dr. Mark Lloyd Taylor is writing a chapter for a School of Theology and Ministry book project on this exercise and will also seek to publish the work in a theological education or ecumenism journal.
- A number of worship services were specifically designed to accommodate groups of school constituents beyond faculty, staff, and students, even visiting national delegations such as: the Faith and Order Commission from the National Council of Churches; the Christian Peace Circle, national peace and justice officers from a variety of Christian denominations; the school?s second annual State of the Church event which gathers denominational executives and representatives from around the region; an evening prayer service immediately preceding the annual Dean?s Club Dinner attended by the school?s top donors; a special morning prayer giving thanks for two faculty and two staff members from the school transitioning out of professional relationships with Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry--this same morning prayer was attended by fifteen participants in a national, bilateral Episcopal Church/Presbyterian Church (USA) ecumenical meeting.
- Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry launched a Worship and Liturgy blog primarily for students, though faculty, staff, alumni, partners and community members are among the blog?s followers. Over the past two years, almost 700 posts have been made to this blog, and posts have included: announcements of worship activities; a lectionary of scripture readings for each day of the year, a prayer cycle by which the school prays by name for each of its faculty, staff, student body, course offerings, denominational partners, ecumenical agencies around the country and more; and reflections or homilies from campus worship services throughout the year and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, by students, faculty, and staff; reflections from the Director of Worship?s time in South Korea at the World Council of Churches assembly.
Outcome 2: Modify administrative structures and secure the personnel and resources needed to sustain the enhancement of public prayer.
- Dr. Mark Lloyd Taylor has attended annual meetings of the North American Academy of Liturgy for the past three years; presented a paper before the Liturgical Theology Seminar in 2013; and was elected to membership in the academy in 2014.? Participation in this scholarly guild has increased his capacity to lead students in worship and has multiplied connections to other scholars and practitioners of worship and preaching in North America. Dr. Taylor also participated in the World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, South Korea in November 2013 along with Master of Divinity alumna Maggie Breen and Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, the school?s Spehar-Halligan Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Collaboration in Interreligious Dialogue. Blogs were posted, networking connections developed with other Christian leaders from around the world, and many worship resources were discovered and brought back to the school--which were then used in classes, prayer gatherings, and worship services.
Outcome 3: Integrate worship and liturgy more intentionally into core classes, and help students to learn how to prepare worship aides in the new forms demanded of our times, such as the creation of prayer in a digital and social networking form that is consistent with one?s ecclesial tradition.
- A newly redesigned course at Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry, STMA 514 Leading Prayer and Worship, was offered for the first time in Winter Quarter 2013 by Dr. Mark Taylor.? The redesigned course is intentionally ecumenical and directed toward a wider range of Christian prayer practices and worship arts, as indicated in the course description: ?This course prepares leaders with hands-on, experiential practice in the skills required to lead groups graciously and effectively in public prayer.? It will consider diverse forms of worship, including: informal blessings at meals, prayers to open meetings, and Christian ecclesial celebrations of Word and Sacrament.? Course feedback will assess the use of the human voice, eyes and face, gestures and posture.? Students will practice handling elemental substances like fire, water, oil, bread and wine, as well as books, plates and cups, and other sacred objects.? The course will include reflection on the spirituality of prayer leadership.?? The new course represents a significant addition to the school?s curriculum; the first of several curricular modifications, we believe, that will come out of the grant.
- A series of three visiting scholars have been brought to campus thus far to teach some of our required preaching courses: The Rev. Dr. Judith McDaniel (Virginia Theological Seminary, retired) taught STMA 551 Preaching the Word: Advanced in Spring Quarter 2013; The Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James taught the Preaching the Word: Homiletics course in Fall 2013; and The Rev. Dr. Flora Wilson Bridges taught Prophetic Preaching for Radical Welcome in Winter 2014.? Students from these courses have preached regularly at Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry worship services to put their learning into practice.
- Grant funds allowed three students to attend the annual Northwest Festival of Preaching in May 2014, which brings to town leading preachers from around the country and from many ecclesial traditions.? Those students then preached both on campus and at the internship sites in local congregations.
Outcome 4: Increase the school?s capacity to offer co-curricular programs that better prepare our students to lead worship and prayer competently and gracefully.
- The school launched a new program for the student community, referred to as ?Linking Liturgy and Learning? gatherings, meeting over lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the academic year for the past two years.? The Tuesday group studies and discusses upcoming Sunday scripture readings (in both the Revised Common Lectionary and the Roman Lectionary for Mass).? Students within spiritual direction degree programs meet and offer centering prayer on Thursdays.
Outcome 5: Continue to hold an annual or bi-annual two day retreat for core faculty and adjunct faculty teaching or leading denominationally-specific formation and liturgy courses in order to deepen the intentionality of the role of worship and liturgy in the curriculum.
- A 2013 workshop for faculty and denominational partners offered a presentation by architect Susan Jones on the major renovation of a local congregation?s worship space and facilitated profound conversation on congregational identity and development in relation to the spaces in which the people of God worship and preach. In 2014, the workshop focused on the multicultural and interreligious context of Christian preaching for radical hospitality and was led by Dr. Flora Wilson Bridges, African American seminary professor and pastor.? Both were well attended by the full range of the school?s ecclesial partners: Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, and Black Church.
Keep posted for more Worship & Liturgy happenings at Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry!"