Published on April 4, 2024 by Anne Madison Adcock  
Emily Reid

Samford University is among a select group of Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) members to receive a grant for Fostering Leadership for Communities of Faith from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Through this initiative, CIC aims to develop and strengthen programs designed to support students who are exploring future leadership roles in communities of faith. Emily Andrews, executive director of the Center for Worship and the Arts and assistant professor of music and worship, is excited about directing the project. She aims to leverage Samford’s expertise and network in the arts to empower emerging artists toward faithful, lifelong worship and discipleship. 

“We’re delighted to enhance our work with undergraduate students across various disciplines in the arts, including music, visual art, graphic design, film production, dramatic art and dance, to foster deeper connections with the local church,” said Andrews. “We plan to partner with local church leaders to hold space for intentional mentorship and vocational discernment, while empowering students to contribute to the worship life of the local church through arts-based projects, events, networks and collaborations.

Andrews views the work as being in alignment with the Center for Worship and the Arts' ongoing portfolio. This organization has been dedicated to the discipleship and worship of young people for over a decade.

“We know that when young people explore and practice their giftedness in the context of God’s people and the Church’s liturgical rhythms, they are empowered to understand their identity as that of a lifelong Christian disciple,” said Andrews. “[They’re able to see] that they are the Church now and not just the future.” 

This grant project primarily creates opportunities for undergraduate students and local church leaders to collaborate. Their goal is to reimagine how emerging artists of all disciplines can contribute more significantly to the worship life of the church. Church leaders play a crucial role in this project. They have the potential to mentor and transform Samford students, an essential aspect of molding lifelong worshipers.

This summer, Andrews, in conjunction with the dedicated staff of the Center for Worship and Arts, will begin their collaborative work.

“We are especially grateful to CIC and their partnership with Lilly Endowment Inc., and for providing NetVUE Grants for this important work,” said Andrews. “We know that mentorship plays a vital role in supporting the vocational discernment of young people. Ultimately, we hope our students discover their core identity, purpose and belonging within the life of the Church. We believe our efforts through this project contribute to that vocational work, helping young people explore multiple pathways to faithful worship and discipleship.”

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.