In most churches, “multimedia” means projectors, amplifiers, PowerPoint, and websites, not paintings. But in Waterloo (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church, multimedia recently meant integrating a series of paintings with a series of sermons based on the book of Revelation.
The idea of incorporating art into the service came from Rev. Vicki Cok and the church’s worship committee. “It was quickly apparent to me,” said Cok, “ . . . that Revelation is a book that needs to be seen and experienced. It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the reverse is not true; my three- to four-thousand word sermons couldn’t begin to do justice to the images.”
Cok asked church member and artist Wilma Vanderleeuw to create the paintings. While she knew it would be a challenging project, Vanderleeuw was intrigued by the idea, and decided to take it on.
To prepare for each painting, she read and reread the passages on which the sermon would be based, prayed, and discussed the focus of the service with Cok. Once she had a feel for the colors and images that might best illustrate the themes, she set to work on the paintings.
Each painting took about 48 hours to complete. Since each painting had a one-week time limit, Vanderleeuw sometimes had to finish the work on Saturday night.
Being so involved with the subject matter of the sermon was very faith-building, Vanderleeuw said.
In the worship services, the art served as a new visual aid each week and was used in conjunction with intentionally dramatic readings from Revelation, to give people as personal an experience as possible.
The congregation responded positively to the series, saying that it was helpful to have a portrayal of some of Revelation’s imagery in front of them.
“Wilma did an amazing thing,” Cok said. “She has a great gift, and we don’t always know how to use everybody’s gifts, so this was a wonderful thing for all of us.”
The paintings are available for loan to other congregations by contacting Wilma Vanderleeuw at (519) 746-7761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.