2014 Congregations Announced

April 25, 2014

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music is pleased to announce that seven congregations from all over the US have been selected to attend the fourth ISM Congregations Project Summer Seminar in June 2014. Each congregation is working on a project related to the theme The Human Body and the Body of Christ.


For the seminar, leadership teams from the congregations gather with ISM and guest faculty on the Yale campus June 20 - 25 to form a diverse ecumenical community of ministers, musicians, scholars, and other church leaders. The curriculum is shaped by the theme and designed to support the congregations’ individual projects, which build on their particular strengths in worship, music, and the arts; to expand their capacity to serve the surrounding community; and to nurture ecumenical partnerships.


A list of the congregations follows, with the titles of their project proposals. More information about the congregations and their projects is at ismcongregations.yale.edu/.



The Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church is a local church with a metropolitan congregation, a lively worshipping community located in the Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhoods of Chicago, Illinois. The majority of parishioners live a short drive from the church; many are close enough to walk.  The congregation is integrated, with a sizable percentage of African-American members.  St. Paul and the Redeemer has developed a liturgy that is flexible yet traditional, and inclusive toward all generations, and boasts four choirs—two for children, and two for adults.  Their project is entitled Building the Body of Christ, and aims to create a series of events that will bring parishioners, visiting musicians, liturgists, artists, and neighbors together in a multifaceted cultural and liturgical celebration around a chosen theme. 


First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania was founded in 1912 in a small town along the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad.  Begun by former missionaries and a women’s prayer group, they strive to be a mission-minded congregation with an inclusive embrace, a global reach, and a heart dedicated to God.  With 536 members, First Presbyterian has a diverse congregation and a wide range of programming, with choirs for every age group, numerous ministry teams, and a team of local piano teachers that provides weekly music lessons to children in the neighborhood. Their Arts at First Presbyterian series brings musical artists of local and national scope to give concerts. Their project seeks to develop a liturgy of healing that incorporates jazz through a series of special and regular worship services, and is entitled Mending the Soul, Tapping the Foot: An Exploration of Jazz and Healing Liturgy.


Garden City Community Church, founded in 1929, serves the residents of Garden City, New York, and has a current membership of about 600 adult members.  An Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ, Garden City Community Church has actively sought ways to revitalize its communal worship experience by involving the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.  Using worship practices that are both old and new, they seek to craft worship services that are emotionally as well as intellectually engaging, and to expand opportunities for the worshiping community to respond actively in word, song, and gesture.  Their project is entitled Let Wonder Be Reborn: Rekindling a Sense of the Sacred in Worship.


Luther Memorial Church, of Madison, WI is a congregation of nearly 1,000 people whose geographic range encompasses the surrounding campus, the wider city, and six counties.  Many in the congregation are associated with the local university and under the age of thirty. Their project, entitled Embodied Church—Disembodied Culture, seeks to discern ways in which the congregation can more authentically embody Christ analogically while simultaneously make more effective use of digital (disembodied?) technology.  Within their worship/sacramental assembly, they seek greater analogical modes of embodiment even as people increasingly come to Luther Memorial through electronic/disembodied means, such as their web site, YouTube, Facebook, and other means. 


Pilgrim Lutheran Church, a “home for hungry minds and souls” in St. Paul, Minnesota, seeks to be a community marked by embodied ways of knowing and growing.  Located near three colleges, these schools shape their ministry context, addressing those who are “hungry minds and souls,” many of whom are de-churched and questioning a re-entry into a faith tradition. In addition to Sunday morning worship and a music program that includes four choirs, instrumental groups, and a jazz ensemble, Pilgrim Lutheran Church also features Celtic and Nordic evening contemplative worship on Sundays.  Their project is entitled An Embodied Wholeness of Knowing and Growing, in Worship and Community.


Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church is located in Arlington, Virginia, and is the largest and perhaps most visible Episcopal church in the region. With over 1,900 members made up of many new families and individuals, the congregation skews young in age. Children are a vital part of their ministry, and the church articulates a special responsibility for their care and education and for ensuring their full involvement in the life of the Church. Saint Mary’s commits one quarter of its annual parish to the needs outside the walls of its church, and encourages its parishioners to participate in community outreach. Worship is the center of Saint Mary’s –the heart from which all parish life flows.  Their project is entitled Forming the Body: Sunday Worship as the Foundation of Discipleship.


St. Nicholas Parish of Evanston, Illinois is an established diverse and dynamic Roman Catholic parish that draws its community from wide-ranging urban and suburban neighborhoods. St. Nicholas embraces speakers of both English and Spanish. As these two language groups worship in one place, they are faced with an ever-present opportunity to learn to hear the Word of God, listen to the voices of the faithful, and sing God’s praise in one voice as the Body of Christ. St. Nicholas has long had a tradition of strong congregational singing, and was the source of a project to create new ritual music to be used throughout the liturgical year. Their project, Building Up the Body of Christ with Hearts and Voices, seeks to identify the best way to combine or create music that bridges their congregation’s two languages and cultures.