Churches Share Examples of Art Used in Worship

Post a Comment » Written on April 13th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (April 13, 2007) – When Covenant News Service published an Easter Worship Arts story in March about how First Covenant Church of Portland, Oregon, was using artwork to help interpret the meaning of Lent, other congregations wanted to share how they were using different media during the season, including Holy Week and Easter.

Church members say they want to encourage others to consider using various art forms as part of their worship. They exemplify that congregations can tap into creativity regardless of their size or meeting space – one church meets in an elementary school.

To see examples of some of the artwork incorporated into worship by some of the churches, please see Worship Art.

Easter new cover artThe Lindsborg (Kansas) Covenant Church has used banners made by parishioners for many years to enhance various sermon series and special occasions of the church year, says Ruth Peterson, who helps plan worship. For a sermon series on the “Sermon on the Mount” theme, church member Shelly Carlson created a paper banner with words of the Lord’s Prayer as a frame for the rest of the text.

“This banner was an incredible focal point for our worship and study, leading us directly into Holy Week,” Peterson says. “As one member told me, ‘Each week I read something new on the banner that I had not noticed before.’ ”

Each week, the congregation of 330 concluded the service with the hymn, “Blest Are They” (page 526 in the Covenant hymnal). Members turned towards each other and sang the refrain: “Rejoice! and be glad, blessed are you, holy are you, rejoice! and be glad! Yours is the kingdom of God.”

The Paxton (Illinois) Covenant Church used various media during Holy Week to interpret the traditional seven last words of Jesus. Each of the seven free-standing works varied in style and size, says Pastor Karen Lichlyter-Klein.

The idea was developed in February and artists from the church of roughly 80 attendees were chosen in March, Lichlyter-Klein says. Artists completed their work by April 1.

Artists and their images were:
•    First Word: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – a photograph of hands, by Richard Lichlyter-Klein
•    The Second Word: “Today you will be with me in paradise” –  an acrylic painting of flowering vines combining into a cross painted, by an artist wishing to remain anonymous
•    Third Word: To his mother, “Woman, behold your son;”  to the disciple, “Behold your mother” –  photography of mothers and sons at different stages, by Richard Lichlyter-Klein
•    Fourth Word: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” –  an acrylic painting of Jesus on the cross, by an anonymous artist
•    Fifth Word: “I thirst” – a clay vase on its side with wilted flowers, by Rhianna Adkins
•    Sixth Word: “It is finished” –  a charcoal on canvas with the words in different languages, by Jeffrey Adkins
•    Seventh Word: “Into your hands I commit my spirit” –  interpretive photography, by Corbin Siddall.

Space issues can limit the ability, but not the desire that churches have to incorporate art into worship. Harvest Ridge Covenant Church in Shawnee, Kansas, has more than 300 people attending on a Sunday morning, but they meet in a multipurpose space, says member Alan Roth.

Because the area is used frequently, Harvest Ridge displays art only during Holy Week. Still, the pieces provide a fresh opportunity for members to pray. Beautiful watercolor images painted by retired Pastor Randy Klassen hang in the space.

“Our building is open all day on Good Friday for anyone who wants to come in and walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief),” Roth says. The church provides a companion prayer guide.

Cedarcreek Covenant Church in Maple Valley, Washington, is a church plant that meets in an elementary school gymnasium, which limits them to Sundays for displaying art, says Hannah Whitten. “That said, we’re always looking for new and creative ways of connecting with one another during worship.”

The church, which averages 110 attendees, wanted to do something special for March 18, when the congregation celebrated “Bringing My World to Christ” Sunday, Whitten says. Artist Scott Erickson, who lives in the Seattle area, was invited to paint during the worship service (see accompanying photo).

“It was an incredibly moving experience as he focused his work on what it means to bring our world into the church and present them to Christ,” Whitten says. “The finished painting now hangs in our church office – it is a powerful reminder of the morning.”

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