Published on May 27, 2020 by Ashley Smith  

Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts (CWA) is providing new opportunities and possibilities for the development of young worship leaders through intentional exploration of worship and the arts. This summer, its flagship summer academy for teenagers and their mentors, Animate, has been repurposed from an on-campus event to a localized in-community experience called Animate Flex. Animate Flex is a free and flexible guide that allows groups or individuals to explore, study and participate in life-changing worship. 

“Animate Flex will be a place of growth in worship arts for youth and their adult mentors. Delivered digitally, Animate Flex will feature videos, podcasts, activities, and curricula for exploring the worship arts and developing worship leadership, all grounded in this year’s timely theme of rest,” program manager Tracy Hanrahan said. 

Contributions from Animate guest artists Paul Ryan, Erin Rose, Glenn Packiam, April Robinson, Cameron Thomas, Joe Cory, Don Sandley, Urban Doxology and Eric Mathis make Animate Flex a creative, relevant, Christ-centered resource whose contents are easily transferrable into local communities.  

Animate Flex will release on Monday, June 1, and is available until July 31. A free overview webinar on Monday, June 8, at 10 a.m. CST will walk through the material and provide examples of how to apply it in different contexts.  

Additionally, the CWA has been sharing new “QuaranTeen” resources with its constituency such as Compline: Evening Liturgies for Anxious Souls, Praying the Headlines, and timely blog posts. Every Wednesday, CWA releases a 4-5 minute guided prayer activity as part of Praying the Headlines. This practice helps channel anxiety from the headlines into prayers of lament, confession, healing, and thanksgiving offered to God. Examples of these resources can be found on YouTube or IGTV, and you can download a PDF version here.

Compline provides evening liturgies for anxious souls through meditative prayer service Sunday through Thursday evenings. Based on the ancient practice of Praying the Hours, Compline features original music and the curation of scripture and prayers built into an invitation to commune with God in a time of reflection, quiet, and stillness at the end of the day in our anxious age. Compline can be found on major podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts [coming soon] and Google Podcasts.

“Churches around the world have been deeply impacted by the COVID pandemic, and the landscape of worship has shifted from the sanctuary to the home, the park, and other non-traditional spaces,” executive director Eric Mathis said. “We hope our new resources will be extremely valuable tools for public and private worship. Specifically, we hope that Animate Flex will provide a new model for teaching worship in an interactive, engaging way to teenagers who may be wondering how to use their gifts in this unique season of the church.”

The Center for Worship and the Arts at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, exists to equip congregations to engage intergenerational and artistic worship practices that glorify God, honor Christ, and join the transformative work of the Spirit in the world.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.