Planning to Catch a Larger Vision: COLAM '99

I can still se them walking across the Calvin College campus during COLAM '95-Mark Filbert and his entire children's choir. Like a Pied Piper, he led the children to mealsm recreation, bells, and all the other activities of the first COLAM that included children. Mark, music director of a Lutheran church in Chicago, wanted his children to catch a vision larger than they experienced at home, a vision that would stay with them and help to shape their growth in their own congregation. They had a great time.

Children are not the only ones who see visions and dream dreams. All of us have the longing to worship in such a way that we learn afresh what it means to worship God in the beauty of holiness. We want to learn how to make Psalm 27:4 really true for us:

One thing I ask of the LORD
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

In our own congregations, some of us get tired of planning, some of us get stuck in routines, and all of us need the encouragement that comes from gathering together, resting, and feasting on riches that we didn't have to work to provide. By resting, I don't mean to imply passivity. I'm talking about the kind of rest that comes when leaders are led, when together we gain new insights and energy and commmitment to return to our local congregations.

COLAM '99 Scheduled for Dordt College

Reformed Worship has been cosponsoring COLAM (Conference on Liturgy and Music) for several years now. The COLAM acronym seems to be sticking in spite of the fact that drama, movement, and the visual arts are now also a very important part of the offerings. COLAM '99 will be held July7-10, 1999, at Dordt College, in the northwest corner of Iowa, nicely centered in the heartland of America.

To give you time to include conferences in your worship committee budget

Many churches set their worship committee budgets for the coming year, and we want to ecourage churches to add an amount to cover conference attendance by several worship committee members, as well as pastors. Although pastors usually have a budget to cover such events, many churches have yet to recognize the need to include and encourage others who are increasingly involved in worship planning and leadership.

To encourage you to take the kids to COLAM

Many families make their summer vacation plans early, and we wanted to let you know what this will indeed be a family conference. We're very excited about the COLAM for Kids. COLAM '95 included children for the first time, partly because of the recently released children's hymnal Songs for LiFE. It was a delight to see children having their first hands-on experience with playing handbells and Orff instruments, and being able to sing in a good-sized children's choir-even learning to sign some of the songs. Check out the brochure for details.

To encourage you to come one and come all

If you do plan to attend COLAM '99, get ready to celebrate diversity. Not only do we anticipate a wide and diverse ecumenical attendance, but we'll also be celebrating diversity in worship style.

At every conference I hear both gratitude for being there as well as regret that certain others didn't come. A church that is only interested in its own way of doing things does not encourage its leaders to catch a vision of other gifts, other songs, other styles that might challenge it to change, to grow.

One thing those in so-called "Traditional" or "contemporary" camps my discover at a conference like COLAM '99 is that these labels don't apply or stick very well. For example, Chip (Carl) Stam, who will be leading the COLAM choir, not only has the highest credentials as a choral director, but also often leads worship with his guitar at his home church in North Carolina. He knows the contemporary scene as well as the classical one.

We at Reformed Worship really look forward to meeting our readers. We hope many of you are able to come.

Emily R. Brink ( is Senior Research Fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and former editor of Reformed Worship.


Carl Stam ( is the director of the Institute for Christian Worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the part-time minister of music at Louisville’s Clifton Baptist Church. Since 1995, he has distributed a weekly e-mail devotional on worship and prayer, Worship Quote of the Week (


Reformed Worship 50 © December 1998, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.