Sarah Travis receives Calvin Institute grant
The Rev. Dr. Sarah Travis, Assistant Professor of Preaching, Worship, and Christian Ministry at Knox College, has been awarded a grant of $15,000 US by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Dr. Travis’s project is one of 15 awarded funding in this first round of grants for 2023-2024. Eleven, including Dr. Travis’s, are in the Teacher-Scholar stream of Grants, and four are in the Worshiping Communities stream of grants.
Her project proposes to enhance the worship and self-identity of small congregations through a theology of playfulness. Dr. Travis said, “God’s nature is playful, and God invites us into an experience of playfulness and creativity. Worship enables us to connect, explore, and wonder about the world around us — like children enjoying a playground.
“Through playful worship, small churches can come to a greater sense of their identity and purpose. Most of the churches The Presbyterian Church in Canada are ‘small,’ with fewer than 50 people attending worship, and anxiety about the smallness of congregations is increasing.”
Dr. Travis will study small churches at worship, networking with leaders and engaging themes of playfulness and creativity in worship. She explains, “This project has several phases. The first is to bring playful worship to life in one or more small congregations in the PCC. Participants will meet for a meal following worship to discuss their experiences. The second is to bring together the leaders of small churches for a ‘Worship Playground’ event to worship and learn together. The third involves writing and research. The project will culminate in the writing of a book about Small Churches and a Theology of Playfulness, a resource designed to enhance worship in small congregations.”
Knox College Principal Ernest van Eck said, “This grant and project link perfectly with Dr. Travis’s previous work on what she has called the needed ‘de-establishment’ of the church in our current cultural context. One way in which we can make what the church preaches every Sunday relevant is to guide the hearers of the gospel toward experiencing God in new, playful, and creative ways — enabling us to reconnect to God and be amazed about the world around us. There is no one better than Dr. Travis to lead us playfully and creatively, helping us experience more of what some people think cannot be experienced. Knox College is proud to be associated with the work of Dr. Travis and hopes to be part of this journey of discovery.”
John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, said, “Teacher-Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines have so much to contribute to congregations and parishes — helping us all see things we otherwise might miss, offering access to essential wisdom for ministry. We are grateful for each of these Teacher-Scholars and the promise of their work for strengthening congregational life.” Grants in this stream range from $9,850 US to $20,000 US.