VU Institute of Liturgical Studies Appoints Co-Directors

By: Valparaiso University Last Updated: March 1, 2017

20151006-JLH-Chapel-00The Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University has named Jennifer Baker-Trinity ’99 and Brian Johnson, assistant vice president for mission and ministry at Valparaiso University, as co-directors of the Institute, accepting two-year appointments effective April 2017.

In their roles as co-directors, Baker-Trinity and Johnson will lead, supervise and direct the Institute of Liturgical Studies. They will be responsible for strategic and tactical planning, oversee day-to-day operations and lead and host the annual conference.

“I am delighted these two inspiring individuals will be working closely together to engage, inform and renew church leaders, congregations, and musicians,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Deacon Baker-Trinity’s alignment with the mission of the Institute and knowledge of liturgical worship combined with Rev. Johnson’s extensive experience and passion for the liturgy and music make them an ideal fit to lead the Institute.”

Johnson joined Valparaiso University in 2011. He currently directs and supervises campus ministries through the leadership, management and coordination of the Chapel of the Resurrection, the Institute for Leadership and Service and the Center for Church Relations.

More than 30 years ago, Johnson attended his first Institute for Liturgical Studies conference and has been closely involved with the Institute during the last five years, assuming the associate director position last year.

“The Institute holds a unique niche in higher education and the church, and I hope to broaden and deepen our ecumenical ties, the pattern of informed scholarship and practical theology and continue to expand liturgical resources for congregations, pastors and musicians,” Johnson said. “As assistant vice president for mission and ministry, the work of the Institute of Liturgical Studies will complement the role of the Helge Center both at the University and in the wider church and world.”

Prior to joining the Valpo community, Johnson served for 15 years at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., most recently as chaplain and as the artistic director of “Christmas in Christ Chapel.” He previously held administrative positions, addressing vocational reflection, service learning, church relations and inter-religious dialogue. From 1998–2006, Johnson was also the chaplain of the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival.

Johnson has academic interests in the intersections between science and religion, faith and the arts and ritual and technology. He has published extensively on worship, music and preaching, and he co-edited “The Spirit of Service: Exploring Faith, Service Learning, and Social Justice” and “Stories from Christian Neighbors: A Heart for Ecumenism.” The focus of Johnson’s most recent academic presentations and university consultations has been issues of mission, identity and interreligious work in higher education.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s from Gustavus Adolphus College, a master of divinity from Luther Theological Seminary and a master of sacred theology from Yale University.

Baker-Trinity, a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is a church musician who enjoys working at the intersections of theology, liturgy and music. She has written widely for the church, having contributed to “Sundays and Seasons,” “In These and Similar Words,” “Worship Matters,” “Leading Worship Matters,” “Soli Deo Gloria: Choir Devotions for Year B,” “Reformation 500 Sourcebook” and “Free Indeed: Devotions for Lent 2017.” In addition, she has presented workshops for local and national worship events on language for worship, children in worship and the integral role of music in the liturgy, three of her particular passions essential to the church’s worship.

Connected to the Institute for two decades, Baker-Trinity served on the Institute of Liturgical Studies’ advisory council from 2006–2012. She has been active for many years in the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, serving twice previously as conference chair and currently as president for Region 1. Baker-Trinity served congregations in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Minnesota as a church musician, regularly contributing to synod worship events. Currently under a call by the Upper Susquehanna Synod, she leads assembly song at Beaver Lutheran Church in Beaver Springs, Pa.

Baker-Trinity earned a bachelor’s from Valparaiso University and a master of religion and a master of sacred theology from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

“As someone who has been deeply formed and inspired by the work and mission of both the Institute and Valparaiso University, I look forward to sharing in the directorship of the Institute, keeping it a vital source of learning and connection for all who care for the church’s worship,” Baker-Trinity said.

As co-directors, Baker-Trinity and Johnson will work closely to educate and renew those who serve the church, continuing the Institute’s 70-year endeavor to transform the church through worship.