Published on June 27, 2018 by Ashley Smith  
animate 2018

Samford University’s Center for Worship and the Arts celebrated the 5th anniversary of Animate June 25-29. The five-day summer program provides training in worship, theology and the arts for teenagers and their adult mentors.  

This year’s 137 attendees are from Texas, Alabama, Virginia, California, North Carolina, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia, and include members from 18 congregations and staff from both Samford and other universities.  

Animate was established as a hands-on, ecumenical, intergenerational workshop in worship and the arts that retained deep roots in Samford University’s Christian tradition.  According to Executive Director Eric Mathis, “Animate is designed for teenagers, youth ministers, worship ministers, parents and others who are willing to help teenagers use their gifts for the glory of God inside and outside the church.” 

This year’s event includes an impressive group of guest artists, ministers and Christian leaders, including David Bowden, Joe Cory, Brad Griffin, Meg Lacy, Ken Medema, Bradley Patton, Abigail Rusert, Paul Ryan and Urban Doxology.  On Wednesday, a special off-campus event with the theme “Beauty from Ashes” featured Urban Doxology along with participation from the Birmingham’s historic 16th Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. 

The Center for Worship and the Arts was established in 2012 in Samford’s School of the Arts with a grant from the  C.I.O.S. Foundation to provide resources for young people and communities of faith to enhance their worship practices. Since that time, the center has grown and received more than $2.4 million dollars allowing for new initiatives.  

Mathis notes, “The center and Animate have found their stride. In five years, we have created a national platform for conversations about the relationship between youth ministry and worship ministry.”

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.