Published on July 3, 2017 by Ashley Smith  
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Samford University’s anima: Center for Worship and the Arts recently welcomed more than 140 participants to campus for Animate, a five-day summer program in worship leadership. 

Animate is designed for teenage worship leaders and adult mentors to worship through different styles and practices, engage in daily Bible study and prayer, learn with hands-on techniques, and lead congregations replicating a biblical, Christ-centered model of worship leadership, according to Eric Mathis, anima director. This year, anima hosted participants from 13 states, and guest artists Christy Nockels, Brad Griffin, Scott Erickson, Joy Lawrence and David Bowden. 

Jade Lobo, 16, and her adult mentor, Graham Seel, 67, traveled to Samford from California. They learned about Animate through social media and experienced Animate for the first time this year.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming to Animate, but the worship has been really engaging and inspiring,” Lobo said. “I’m going to take what I’m learning back to my home church.”

Workshop participants also experienced a special Sacred Spaces project that was developed by David Bains, interim chair of Samford’s Department of Religion. The group visited a suburban Birmingham church that meets in a converted ice skating rink, as well the downtown cathedral for the local Catholic Diocese. The project was designed to develop understanding about the role that space plays in worship experiences.

In addition to guest artists, the Center for Worship and the Arts hosted 33 college student staff chosen from a competitive pool of Samford University and Beeson Divinity School students. The staffers handled many logistics to make the week possible, and served as small-group leaders and worship leaders. Samford employees also taught afternoon sessions in music, arts, spoken word and technology.

Emily Andrews, assistant director of anima, saw this year as a great success and credits the college staffers.

“We’ve really seen God at work this week,” Andrews said. “We’ve been inspired by guest artists, our worship and seeing teenagers lean into the calling that God has put in their lives. The Samford students have been beyond helpful. We’ve seen them improve their leadership abilities, and their desire to use their skills and gifts to further God’s kingdom and Samford’s mission.”

Andrews said the anima team received positive feedback from the week and has begun the planning process for next year’s event, which will take place June 25–29, 2018.

Ashley Smith is coordinator of marketing and communication for Samford’s School of the Arts.

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.