Azusa Pacific University's College of the Arts has received a grant of $999,304 from Lilly Endowment to help churches imagine new ways of engaging in intergenerational worship arts ministry and leadership. The grant will fund new programming and resources to support the spiritual development of youth through worship and the arts.

Stephen Martin, M.M., assistant professor of music and director of Worship Arts at Azusa Pacific, will direct the project. “This generous grant from Lilly Endowment represents an exciting opportunity to support a new generation of artistic ministry leaders,” said Martin.

Through the introduction of an Angeles Worship Initiative (AWI), the College of the Arts will partner with the School of Theology’s Center for Vocational Ministry to create innovative approaches for nurturing the spiritual lives of youth. A group of churches, selected by the AWI advisory council, will help with this project to re-imagine youth ministry using artistic models.

AWI will support new programs, including Angeles Worship Summit, an immersive, hands-on approach to worship arts training for intergenerational worship teams; and a Songwriting & Scriptwriting Academy to provide specialized training for youth gifted in writing music, poetry, spoken word, and theatrical/cinematic scripts. Worship Forum events will take place on the campus of Azusa Pacific, highlighting various worship arts ministry professionals. The Angeles Worship Initiative will also include the expansion of Worship Arts Lab, a specialized summer youth academy for worship artists, leaders, and adult mentors.

“This program will benefit youth, churches, Christian arts ministries, and APU students, enabling young artists to create and collaborate through worship,” said John Simons, grant co-writer and associate dean of graduate studies.

With strong connections to artistic communities and professionals in Hollywood and greater Los Angeles, COTA is home to a vibrant School of Music and School of Visual & Performing Arts. COTA is also directly connected with a broad spectrum of churches and ministry leaders, who will help to shape the trajectory and focus of the Angeles Worship Initiative.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family - J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the endowment, the endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion.


Rachel White
Executive Director of Strategic Communication
Phone: (626) 815-4502