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Education Extra: Animate

Worship: Training Ground for Teens to Hear & Tell the Story of God


“In scripture, God calls us to use our gifts and talents to worship God. God has given me the gift of music, and it is my responsibility to share that gift with others to glorify God. I am so thankful for the ways Samford has encouraged and instructed me as a young worship leader,” explains Emily Hanrahan, a high school senior at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church and a participant in the summer program Animate. Animate is hosted by anima: the Center for Worship and the Arts, founded and based at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. anima provides resources for teenagers interested in worship leadership and adults interested in mentoring teenage youth worship leaders. The center is run by faculty, staff, and students within the School of the Arts at Samford, and it is most known for Animate, its five-day summer program in worship leadership for teenagers and their adult mentors.

Animate participant Emily Hanrahan of Hoover using her musical gifts to glorify God.
Animate participant Emily Hanrahan of Hoover using her musical gifts to glorify God.

Animate will take place at Samford University June 26-30, 2017, welcoming a number of guest artists to the Samford University campus, including Christy Nockels. The heart of the Animate philosophy says that when teenagers find their place in the church through worship leadership, they are more likely to stay engaged in church life through their college years and beyond. Animate is open to any student who has completed 7th grade through 12th grade and is interested in worship leadership.

“I’m a youth minister in a local congregation and we’ve brought youth and adults every year so far to Animate. Our students have sharpened leadership skills, been exposed to new things, new ideas and new ways of worshiping. A lot of our students have confronted self-consciousness and grown in confidence,” Andy Farmer of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church said.

Eric Mathis, director of anima, wants to train the next generation of thoughtful, artistic worship leaders. “Worship has the potential to be the most important training ground for teenagers to hear and tell the story of God working in the world. Teenagers are more than the future of the church. Teenagers are the church in the present here and now. Through the work of anima, we are advancing this message,” Mathis said. For more information about anima or Animate, visit

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