History of the International Worship Symposium

The International Worship Symposium (IWS) movement began under the leadership of Barry Griffing and Steve Griffing in 1978, who convened about 120 worship leaders and musicians at Shiloh Christian Fellowship in Oakland, CA. Their purpose was to connect with like-minded worship ministries and share ideas about the contemporary restoration of the worship commandments of the Psalms.

In 1983 the IWS conference was hosted by Living Waters Church in Pasadena, CA under the leadership of David Fischer, who joined the IWS leadership team along with Larry Dempsey. Since that year, Living Waters Church has hosted their regional worship event, which continues to this day.

These conferences have provided one of the richest opportunities to learn and participate in many forms of vocal & instrumental worship, dance & processional movement, mime, drama, handsigning, tambourines, flags & banners, painting and other art forms.

Through the 1980’s IWS continued to host large worship gatherings in major cities across the nation with thousands in attendance. Throughout its rich history, the International Worship Symposium has influenced many church leaders and worship pioneers including Bob Sorge, Graham Kendrick (March for Jesus), and Michael Coleman & Don Moen (Hosanna! Integrity).

Over the years the conference has been enriched by the teachings and leadership of Jack Hayford, Charlotte Baker, John Dawson, Terry Law, Chuck Girard, Jim Gilbert, Vivien Hibbert, Lou Engle, Bob Yandian, Judson Cornwall, Phil Driscoll and Billy Joe Daugherty.

The Pasadena conference also has exported this worship expression to over 20 nations on 4 continents, including major influence in the countries of Columbia, Venezuela, England, Holland, Germany and Bulgaria.

Rarely has one conference been involved in so many creative streams that have flowed from it, bringing fresh understanding and a new experience of the Presence of God in praise and worship. We celebrate the growth and increase of worship, as many streams of churches have become involved and the River of God has greatly increased around the whole world!