Dr. Lisa Long

Dr. Long's grant will allow her to better research the sacrament of communion, with the goal of strengthening local Christian communities.

Lee’s Director of Graduate Programs in Christian Ministries Dr. Lisa Long was recently awarded a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW).

Long is one of 14 inaugural round recipients of Vital Worship grants awarded to teacher-scholars.

“This is a brand new grant that the [CICW] is doing,” Long said. “They are seeking to combine scholars with local congregations to help local congregations improve their public worship life.”

This latest series of awards—ranging from $11,000 to $18,000—from the Vital Worship Grants program serves to engage teacher-scholars in their local churches with the common purpose of strengthening the lives of Christian worshiping communities.

Kathy Smith, leader of the Vital Worship Grants Team, works with an advisory board of pastors, teachers and scholars to select grant recipients each year.

“We are delighted to join with these distinguished scholars to explore the ways that scholarship in different fields can contribute to the deepening of worship practices in congregations,” Smith said. “We were grateful for a number of excellent proposals and are eager to facilitate their learning and ours, regarding worship across North America.”

The grant awarded to Long for 2019-20 will be used to investigate the effects of Holy Communion on congregants of various denominations throughout Eastern Tennessee.

“I’m going to be doing a continuation of the field research from my dissertation,” Long said. “I mostly observed Communion services and talked to people about their perceptions of whether or not celebrating Communion had any effect, or if it’s just something we do to remember Christ, and compared those to the doctrine of the Church of God.”

“Now I’m going to expand that into four or five additional denominations to see how they perceive the doctrine and hopefully find some ways to help leaders in the churches better connect their doctrine with their practice,” Long continued.

Long earned her Bachelor of Science from Lee University, her Master of Arts from the Church of God Theological Seminary and her Doctorate of Philosophy from Biola University.

She joined the faculty at Lee in 2006 and now serves as an associate professor of Christian formation and as Lee’s director of graduate programs in Christian ministries.

The Vital Worship Grants program has awarded 827 grants to various churches, schools and organizations since 2000 with the goal of renewing public worship practices.

According to the CICW, the grants will fund a diverse group of projects, including intercultural music, worship and earth care, worship across the spectrum of ability and disability, women's leadership, worship and social justice advocacy and more.

Director of the Calvin Institute of Worship John Witvliet stated the purpose and sentiment behind awarding the teacher-scholar grants.

“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,” Witvliet said. “We are grateful for each of these teacher-scholars and the promise of their work for strengthening congregational life.”

For more information on the Vital Worship Grants program and a full list of teacher-scholar grant recipients, visit www.worship.calvin.edu/grants.

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