Published on June 21, 2021 by Ashley Smith  

Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts hosted Animate 2021 Live and Animate Flex this month. It was an on-line gathering of teenagers and adults from multiple generations, races and denominations. Musicians and preachers. Actors and artists. Leaders and followers.

“While we missed the energy and excitement of having 100+ students and adults on campus for Animate, we are grateful to have been able to connect and interact with teens and their adult mentors through Animate 21 LIVE.  We had a total of 38 people register for Animate 21 LIVE, and another 11 who registered as participant observers,” said Tracy Hanrahan, program manager.

Participants enjoyed daily, interactive worship experiences, honed worship leadership skills during online, synchronous worship arts classes, and expanded  knowledge through video classes in music, theatre, art, technology, and other electives.

“Content was provided by an amazing group of worship leaders and toolbox instructors,” said Hanrahan. Along with the guest leaders, Samford’s faculty also participated in the program. This year’s theme was Rejoice!, with daily emphases on what it means to Rejoice Always, Continue in Joy (when times are hard,) Be Strong in Joy, Lead in Joy from confidence in the Fullness of Joy in Christ, and then Go Forth in Joy to lead and serve in our local contexts.  Worship was presented in a variety of different styles: from band-driven, modern worship to acoustic, unplugged worship to an amazing juxtaposition of formal liturgical elements with music in black gospel tradition with the final worship service being offered by a group of Animate alumni from all across the country.

The live sessions were archived and uploaded to the virtual venue for access by registrants of Animate 21 FLEX which will be available June 14 - July 31.

Mentoring young people for faithful worship ministry in the twenty-first century lies at the heart of the Animate philosophy. By encouraging thoughtful, artistic, imaginative worship planning and leadership, Animate seeks to help students and their mentors better understand and facilitate the dialogue of worship. The goal is to provide the tools for these youths to further enhance the worship life of their local congregation.

“We've sorely missed our in-person programming this year, but Animate 21 Live, once again, reminded us that teenagers are not simply the future of the church. They are the church now. While we hope that this year’s program will further equip teenagers and their congregations to engage intergenerational and artistic worship practices, we are especially grateful for the learning and inspiration we’ve gleaned from young disciples this week,” said Emily Andrews, director of the Center for Worship and the Arts. 

Through Animate, teenagers become conversant in multiple styles, expressions, and idioms of worship. They will be inspired to invigorate the mission of the church, foster a richer imagination about who God is, promote a deeper level of participation in church life, and create a greater desire to live a life of humility and conviction in the world.

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.