Grant Award: God’s Creative Story

We are delighted to announce that NDPC is the recipient of a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. 

As a congregation, we have been yearning toward deeper biblical, liturgical, visual and creativity literacy in both corporate worship and individual spiritual development. To enhance these dimensions of our faith life we will implement a year-long series of classes, workshops, and worship services called God’s Creative Story, beginning in September 2019. We believe a sustained focus on scripture and art will enhance our worship in both word and image, and that we will grow both as creative givers and creative receivers of these gifts exchanged with God.

We are, by conventional measures, a well-educated and literate congregation, yet we see in ourselves a relative lack of biblical literacy. In recent years, we have been more intentional about living into the liturgical calendar, but we are now eager to better understand the biblical stories these seasons lend structure to with a series of ongoing adult ed classes and small group structures, whereby each gathering will produce and/or curate liturgical art pieces for use in our congregational worship services. We feel that we can best do this through concurrent growth in our own biblical, liturgical, visual and creativity literacy.

While we enjoy high-quality and well-conceived worship services, we seek to enrich and deepen our engagement with the Spirit, with scripture, with image, and with one another. We now have an opportunity to know the Bible anew through the pairing of a back-to-basics overview and one that reads the text through artists’ eyes.

As a result of this project, we will experience more visual art in our worship, drawing from our own individual and collaborative efforts as well as from professional artists. We will also deliver a year-long Adult Ed series on the Artistry of the Bible. For these activities we have dedicated the Studio Classroom (formerly the Large Classroom) to be used for adult education, for worship preparation, and for small-group gatherings.

We will facilitate both art-making and art appreciation through the lenses of the liturgical calendar and scripture. As we grow in our understanding of each, we will add a professional perspective on art-making through three special presentations.

First, we will look at the role of the viewer in bringing visual images to their fullness, drawing from Victoria Emily Jones’ work on “Gazing as a Spiritual Practice.”

Second, we will look at creativity conceptually and its implications for our individual spiritual growth with an invitation to work through readings and exercises developed by Karla Kincannon in Creativity and Divine Surprise.

And third, we will delve into the visual medium of photography as liturgical media art guided by research and lessons from Eileen Crowley, author of Liturgical Art for a Media Culture.

Relationships can be both challenged and deepened through collaborative co-creation, and we believe that this sustained focus on establishing a stronger theological foundation for our work will strengthen our identity and confidence as a creative, participatory worshiping community in order to serve our world, our neighbors, and one another by serving God.