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Life-size Furniture Brings Tabernacle to Life


This fall, adults and children of all ages at Spring Lake (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church experienced the Old Testament tabernacle as it might have been with life-size wooden furniture made by their own members.

Life-size wooden tabernacle furniture at Spring Lake CRC.

“The furniture has been a nice visual reminder of what we’re doing and has helped to capture people’s interest,” said Drew Sweetman, pastor of the church.

After holding a traditional Sunday evening service for the past 130 years, the church decided to try something different. Once a month, instead of the usual evening worship service, the church holds “Second Sunday events,” a time of intergenerational learning and fellowship, said Sweetman. The church is using the WE curriculum created by Faith Alive, the publishing ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.

The curriculum’s “Enter the Tabernacle” series includes instructions to build tabernacle furniture out of cardboard boxes. “Since we would be using them on a Sunday, we thought we could make something better than that so they wouldn’t collapse,” said George Suchecki, one of two men who built the six large pieces, including the altar of burnt offerings and the ark of the covenant out of wood. “You can talk about the tabernacle but when you see it in real life and how it relates to us, it does make more of an impact.”

Second Sundays have brought out more young families with children, and everyone appreciates the multigenerational aspect. It has also drawn in people from other churches who are curious about the tabernacle and furniture.

“The interesting part for me is seeing the perspective of different ages on the same subject. It really opens our eyes to how the Holy Spirit works,” said member John Vandyke.

Cheri Ter Haar and her three children under the age of 12 have especially enjoyed conversations that make connections between the lesson and their lives. “We love having hands-on activities to help us learn about the tabernacle,” said Ter Haar.

The church hopes to pass on the furniture to another church that may want to use it.

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