WorshipArts began in concept in 2006 because we wanted our children to have some kind of church choir experience. Singing, especially four-part a cappella hymn singing, is part of our Mennonite denominational heritage. However, like many urban churches, it was hard to plan rehearsals outside Sunday mornings due to busy schedules and long commutes to and from home. These logistical constraints due to being geographically dispersed led to some creative thinking and planning.
We, as a church, realized that what we really desired was a program that honored children’s voices in worship, whether through music, art, writing, or drama.
Plus, we wanted a program that was more about participation than performance and more about process than product. In sum, our current co-leaders set out to create a WorshipArts program that would cultivate children’s imagination, help them engage with Scripture, nurture their God-given voice and talents, and do so in the context of a loving, creative community.
How it works:
Kindergarten-5th grade children head to the WorshipArts room during the closing hymn. There they spend time before Sunday school with committed adult volunteers getting a “close up” look at the movements, songs, language, rituals, sacraments, and art of worship. Sometimes they talk about aspects of the morning’s worship, sometimes they sing, play instruments, draw, build sculptures, read books, create bulletin covers, write litanies, or participate in a skit.
What we hope:
We treat our WorshipArts program like a training program for our young congregants to become more fully awake and in tune with worship, as well as the community gathered around them. In other words, we don’t want our young congregants to see worship as something that adults do passively. Rather, we want them to feel like they have an important place in God’s house, and that they can use their minds, imagination, and bodies to come to know God. What we long for is that our children will see themselves as worship leaders in their own way.
From our Woship Arts blog:
September 16th marked the 1st Sunday of our WorshipArts season. We gathered to introduce ourselves and think about the stories shared in worship: God’s image suggested by open arms or an umbrella in Jan’s children’s story; Alex helping to read the Genesis story of creation, from the Bible; a beautiful dedication story of new forever […]Read more
Who’s Going to Tell the Story?
“Voice” has been a recurring theme through WorshipArts this year. Along with the congregation, we’ve listened for voices of conscience, voices from the margins, voices of hope, and voices of resurrection. On Sunday, May 13, we heard the adult choir sing the following words from a favorite anthem, “The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the […]Read more
Silence my soul, these trees are prayers – […]Read more
Along with learning to fold origami cranes in WorshipArts the past few weeks, we’ve also been reading the book that brought Sadako Sasaki’s story into international consciousness – Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. Moving through a few pages each week, we’re getting to know this young girl who lived in Japan from 1943-1955. […]Read more
Folding Spiritual Practice into Lent
The colorful images on the altar this Lenten season beckoned to us early on – Folding paper cranes has been part of Rainbow’s narrative for many years, after it was first introduced as an intergenerational project by Phyllis, who along with her husband Bob, spent part of their adult lives living and working in Japan. […]Read more
To Know By Heart
Memory is a complicated subject for me these days. In many churches, memory work is a large part of the children’s faith curriculum – and while I haven’t noticed it to be a particular emphasis at Rainbow in recent years, it is one of many facets that the newly established faith formation board has held […]Read more
We’ve been all ears (and questions!) the past two weeks with our guests, Holly and David. Each joined our WorshipArts group on successive Sundays to share a bit about their respective faiths, Catholicism and Judaism. Of course we can barely scratch the surface, and our questions center more around practice than theology. We are perhaps […]Read more
“How do they pray?”
During the past few weeks, Ruth’s sermon theme of The Lord’s Prayer provided the seed for a new inquiry project in WorshipArts. In my mind I imagined where the discussions might lead us and looked for materials that could contribute to thinking together about the concepts of hallowed, of heaven on earth, of forgiveness – and […]Read more
Christus Mansionem Benedicat
During WorshipArts on Sunday, The K-5th graders furthered the Epiphany conversation that Ruth started during Children’s Time. As is a traditional custom for some congregations, we “chalked” the door of our WorshipArts room to symbolize the blessing of our space and our time together in this New Year. If you look closely, you will […]Read more
I Am A Child Of God
Sunday was the final WorshipArts meeting for this school year. As a means of reflection we gathered the various tangible representations of our time together and arranged them into a display format in the Fellowship Hall. Congregants were invited to peruse the display and encouraged to talk to the children about their work – and […]Read more