And Finally: May 2018

I’d like to share with you how enjoyable it has been for me to be a part of a creative process.

As many of you are aware, a recent part of my Doctor of Ministry project has been the presentation of a Children in Worship story that I wrote (CIW is a major part of the education program that Hope Church uses for its preschool through 5th graders, using simple figures and materials to tell the stories of God). The story that I wrote has been presented as part of a Parent Workshop, told in the Children in Worship centers, and told in the Early Worship and sanctuary worship services. That’s the bare bones of it, but it’s been most interesting to me to see how this has all unfolded as a collaborative creative effort:

  • In late 2017 I consulted with the Christian Education Ministry about the idea of writing a CIW story.
  • In January, I locked myself in a room in Chicago (at McCormick Seminary) to create the story. I wasn’t sure what to write but I had to write something, so I did.
  • I first shared the story with Jocelyn, and her initial response of “this could work!” allowed me to feel like I had the seed of something that could be fruitful. Joce also shared a number of ideas, questions and critiques for me as I continued to work on the story.
  • That combination of affirmation (that the story had potential) along with ideas, questions, critiques continued as I shared the story with Pastor Jill and Pastor Beth and with my Doctor of Ministry Advisory Group. I received such valuable insight and encouragement from this input, and I rewrote the story many times (and thought about it a lot of the time!).
  • I held a Parents Workshop at the end of February to offer some background on my DMin work and to tell the story (the world premiere!). It was a wonderful event, as I was so grateful for the engaged creative energy of the gathering. The story was very well received both as meaningful to the parents and as something they were eager for their children to experience. I also received crucial feedback: i.e. ‘what about adding images for the younger children?’; ‘can the figures better represent ethnic diversity?’. All this helped me to hone the story further, as I rewrote the story many more times!
  • At this point, Joce assisted me intensively with getting the materials for the story finalized (including new multi-hued wooden figures!). And Clare Heyboer made a huge contribution in expertly preparing many wooden “wall” panel pieces and holders for the story.
  • Following the workshop, I was encouraged by Jill and Beth to share the story in the worship services, which was a new idea for the project. We discussed the logistics and decided we could make it work.
  • Palm Sunday, March 25, the story was told to all of the children in the CIW centers and at the 8:30am and 11am services. It was very meaningful for me to have the story received as part of worship, and it was exciting to have this new story offered as part of the CIW curriculum.
  • The feedback from March 25 was very rich. The CIW leaders were very encouraging about using this story in the CIW centers, and the congregation gave much affirmation and insight on the story.
  • And now the creative process is continuing. Based on the feedback from the CIW leaders, I am working towards a particular version for each of the 4 CIW classrooms, with the content of the story tailored to each of the age groups. I am also looking for ways to share the story with other congregations who use the CIW program. And I am rewriting the story a few more times. 🙂

God the Creator has made us as creative creatures. The brokenness in God’s world demands creativity from us to find paths of reconciliation and justice. Creativity requires individual effort but it can only bear fruit in faithful community. The story I wrote is just one little toe-hold in seeking to witness to God’s grace in the world, but the process of seeing it take creative shape in collaboration with the faithful community of Hope Church has been a great joy and encouragement for me. Don’t be afraid to offer your creative ideas; don’t be afraid to ask for help or to offer help. Most any creative idea will require some rewriting and revising along the way, but placed in the hands of the Spirit and into a faithful community: “this could work!”

Pastor Gordon

Doctor of Ministry Project by Pastor Gordon Wiersma
SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 11:15AM-12:30PM
Hope Church Commons ~ light lunch provided
All are invited to participate in this event as a part of Pastor Gordon’s Doctor of Ministry project. Using prayers that Pastor Gordon has written for the worship liturgy over the past several months as a source for reflection and response, this event will explore how words and images shape our faith and how our faith intersects with meaning in our lives. Your participation and input will be an important part of the work that Pastor Gordon is doing for his Doctor of Ministry project. Please plan to attend by signing up for the Sunday, June 3, event on the sign-up sheet in the Gathering Area.