Published on February 27, 2023 by Abbey Plant  

Now entering its second decade of work, Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts (CWA) continues to provide resources for young people and communities of faith to engage with artistic worship practices. Thanks to generous grants from both Christ Is Our Salvation (CIOS) Foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc., the center is growing its staff, rolling out innovative programs, and recently announced the return of its in-person Animate summer program.

Animate is the flagship summer program in worship and the arts for teens and their adult mentors. This will be the first summer since 2019 that the program has been in person. Animate will take place on Samford’s campus in Birmingham, Alabama, June 26-30, 2023. Learn more and register.

Through generous grants along with gifts from individual donors, the center has expanded its work to include worship exchange events for ministry leaders to learn alongside Samford students, faculty, and staff; a growing list of online worship resources, a faculty fellows program, and intergenerational cohort partnerships with local churches. In the fall of 2022, CWA collaborated with Beeson Divinity School for the “Beauty of God” conference, which featured guest musical artist, Matt Papa alongside other artists and ministry influencers. This spring (April 4-5), the center is sponsoring a worship exchange event highlighting the work of visual artist, Erin Shaw.

Currently, the center engages three faculty fellows, 20 Samford students through its residency program and as support staff, dozens of online certificate students, and hundreds of community partners throughout the southeastern United States. As a center at Samford, it enriches the Samford community by “empowering students to be key stakeholders in our work, mobilizing faculty to buy in to our vision and contribute their own disciplinary wisdom to further our mission, and inspiring our community partners to wholly support the inclusion of creative young people in the full worship life of the church,” said Nelson Cowan, director of the Center for Worship and the Arts.

See the new Samford CWA mission video to catch a vision for the heart behind its work.

The center’s executive director, Emily Andrews notes, “As we continue to help reframe the way young people participate in the lives of congregations, we see both students and the local church thrive—For the glory of God, for the good of the church.”

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.