When Pastor Daniel Claus preached from the book of Revelation this fall he challenged his congregation at Shoreline (Wash.) Christian Reformed Church to engage deeply—requesting as many as would participate to create artwork inspired by the scripture. Members had three months to ponder and produce pieces. Artists shared their work Sunday, Dec. 1 in a temporary gallery erected in the church hallways and main gathering space.
"People expect Revelation to be all charts and that can be daunting,” explained Claus. He hoped that art would allow members to experience the book through an imaginative lens.
Shoreline CRC had few known artists when the project began. Even so, out of 140 members, 71 participants created 78 pieces. Claus invited the high school art teacher, Diane VanOrnam to bring her students into the project. Just over half of the participants were students.
One of the most exciting projects was actually created by a student, a metal sword, forged with the help of her father. Inspired by the letter to Pergamum in Revelation 2, Geneva Boersema crafted the blade from an aluminium bar that she shaped with a jigsaw and bench grinder. "I cut three hilt pieces of wood and epoxied them to the tang to create a reasonably realistic-looking hilt assembly," Boersema explained of her process. Speaking further on her inspiration, Boersma said she also drew from the "importance of words in the entire book—from the blessing at the beginning to the warning at the end."
Harriet Tibbits, one of the senior participants, crafted a quilt inspired by Revelation 4, 8, & 20. Though an experienced quilter, Tibbits said she felt challenged “to do an original project while applying it to scripture.” Ken Oordt, an elder at Shoreline CRC, created a music video set to a recording of the church choir singing Revelation 19 by Jeffrey LaValley. Featuring astronomical imagery and photography of the Washington landscape, Oordt said “I keyed into verse 16 of chapter 1, about the ‘One on the throne holding seven stars in his right hand.’”
The variety of finished products represented the church members’ varied gifts. The idea of the project was not to create fine art, Claus said, but rather to "do what you're good at."
While some of the artists took their work home that day, about half remained on display through Advent. For Claus the highlight was witnessing a greater sense of community as the artists shared pieces and questions. "It gave them permission to share aspects of themselves they wouldn't normally (share)," he said. Diane VanOrnam, the local art teacher spoke to the experience of her students. “The highlight for me was appreciating my students’ creativity and their God-given uniqueness.” She believes that the project challenged all of the artists as the scripture forced them to dig more deeply into their creativity. “Even in the process of doing the art, scripture does not ‘return void.’ Seeds are always planted,” said VanOrnam.