Ministry leaders saw the culmination of years of hope and effort recently when art and worship came together to create healing in their church community.
Not a church exists that doesn’t have a need for healing. But it can be difficult to know where to start that process. Through prayer and planning, ministry leaders at New Life Christian Reformed Church in Guelph, Ontario, found the answer in art.
The church commissioned a work of art that the preaching team incorporated into a sermon series on Christian character. “We commissioned artist Floyd Elzinga to create a piece for us that demonstrated ‘metamorphosis,’” said Peter Schuurman, who organized the project with worship leader and arts committee head Nicole Ensing.
The Art as Worship committee, launched five years ago, has brought several exhibits to the church. But intentionally including the art in a sermon series “brought that early vision to reality,” said high school teacher Kevin Huinink, another member of the arts committee. The group sees in fine arts a way to enhance worship but also an opportunity “to be hospitable to artists who often feel alienated by both their church community and artistic community.”
Observing the response to these efforts, Huinink said, “It was a bit of a dream come true as I watched a great number of our congregation in our gallery space interacting with the artist, asking questions, experiencing his art.”
Elzinga’s art, created in stages during the sermon series, contributed to the church’s theme “Cultivating Community”; photos of the process were used in posters, bulletin covers, and projection backgrounds during the series. Playing on the cultivation theme, the piece depicts a tree going from seed to sapling to stump, and finally to new growth.
The work, said Huinink, “has opened up discussion on what it means to experience pain and brokenness, but also to live on in hope, cultivating community.”