Published on July 2, 2019 by Ashley Smith  

Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts hosted a record number of participants at the sixth annual Animate, a five-day summer program for teenage worship leaders and their mentors. The program has hit its stride with returning groups, church cohorts and resources that are available to churches year-round through the Center for Worship and the Arts  website and other offerings.

“The attendance and success of Animate is the result of what we are offering the church community. Animate is not a product but rather a process where teenagers can experience Christ in worship,” Kara Young, Animate public relations coordinator, said. 

This year’s theme, “Rooted,” reflects the program growing more established in its purpose. With high-profile guest artists including singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson, spoken word poet Propaganda, visual artist Maria Fee, and worship leaders from across the country, Animate takes its role seriously as an opportunity for growth and development of teenage worship leaders. Additionally, 29 students, many of whom are Samford students or graduates, staff the Animate event. Numerous Samford Arts faculty contributed as toolbox instructors and leaders. 

“Animate’s goal is to unlock participants’ potential for the good of the church,” Eric Mathis, director of the center and associate dean of the Division of Music in Samford’s School of the Arts said.

Mathis founded Animate and the Center for Worship and the Arts through grants by C.I.O.S. Foundation, Inc. and the Lilly Endowment, Inc. that continue to support the program today. The Center has gained traction as a leader in the national conversation about intergenerational worship and teenage leadership in the church.

“The center has incredible momentum and a dedicated staff to take us to the next level of service to the church,” Mathis said. 

Lauren Sink was one of many returning past participants and loves learning from both program leaders and other attendees.

“This is my second year attending Animate, and I learned the beauty that comes when such a diverse group of followers of Christ come together in worship. We are all made in His image, and it is so lovely to see each person expressing that in their own unique way here at Animate,” she said. 

The Center for Worship and the Arts is an integral part of Samford’s School of the Arts. Undergraduate and graduate students can work with the center during the school year to forge unique connections with churches and worship leadership. Samford undergraduate degrees have expanded to include interdisciplinary ministry options in worship leadership and Christian ministry.

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.