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Building Relationships at Worship Symposium 2023

February 22, 2023

“It’s so nice to finally meet you in person!”

Statements like this echoed through the hallways of Calvin University during the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s 2023 Symposium on Worship in early February. The annual conference, which began in 1988, had to go completely online in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2022 it was mainly livestream with some in-person sessions on campus. This year, at last, the symposium was able to meet mainly in person again, with a livestream option available for many of its sessions. Over 700 attendees arrived on campus, filling the Covenant Fine Arts Center auditorium and chapel spaces with singing, hugs, and conversations.

Many countries, denominations, and religious backgrounds were represented both in the attendees and presenters. And the staff of Congregational Ministries was hard at work in a variety of capacities, enjoying opportunities to engage with CRC people face-to-face after years of being apart.

Five staff members presented workshops or helped to lead panels on a number of topics. Chris Schoon, codirector of Congregational Ministries, participated in a panel discussing the “silver linings” of the COVID-19 pandemic for our churches and ministry leaders. And he and Karen DeBoer, creative resource developer in Faith Formation, led a workshop on Faith Practices for all ages. After the session ended, they spoke with a pastor who shared his congregation’s experience with the Faith Practices Project.

Lindsay Wieland Capel of Disability Concerns helped to lead a livestreamed panel on how to welcome all bodies in worship – sharing her own expertise on ableism in the church. Katie Ritsema-Roelofs, part of the Worship staff, led a workshop on balancing congregational song and joined with Professor Cory Willson of Calvin Theological Seminary to lead a session on “Work and Worship.” Reggie Smith, Diversity leader, participated in a panel discussion with the Antioch Podcast around antiracism and engaging in difficult conversations in churches.

Congregational Ministries also hosted a “CRC coffee break” at Calvin Theological Seminary on Friday morning, inviting anyone coming from a CRC church to gather and meet each other as well as the staff. “This symposium is a precious opportunity for worship leaders and pastors to gather in person – to be renewed and refreshed, encouraged and equipped,” said Chris Schoon afterward. “An important part of that is the ability to meet one another and to strengthen relationships that are largely remote. This coffee time was one of many opportunities to do just that.”

Relationship building and listening are central to the way Congregational Ministries engages and equips ministry leaders. Looking for a companion as you engage in your ministry? Connect with staff who can walk alongside you through ministry challenges and opportunities at