The late theologian Bob Webber had a vision for an academic program where people could pursue graduate-level studies in worship, without having to pass through the standard seminary channels first. There are a lot of church musicians and worship leaders whose training is in music or dance or some other related field--people with the academic abilities but who for career reasons cannot take the M.Div. detour before studying the theology and history of worship.
In 1998, Bob founded the Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida. It has been a nontraditional program that combines on-site seminars with distance learning. It's facilities are seriously limited, but it has attracted a knowledge-hungry and enthusiastic group of students, having graduated 161 students from over 30 denominations in its 10 years of existence.
Last week I got an e-mail from IWS president Jim Hart, excitedly telling me that the school had passed a major hurdle in the accreditation process.It has been granted candidate status with the Association for Biblical Higher Education. According to the IWS press release:
Candidate Status grants the Institute membership in the association, and also provides pre-accredited status. Pre-accredited status is granted by the ABHE to institutions that meet its Conditions of Eligibility, and provide a basis for achieving accreditation status within four years.
Congratulations to Jim Hart and the IWS community!The press release with full information is posted at the website of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.