Congregational Setting

Visual Faith in the Congregational Setting

My name is Garet Ellis and I am the pastor of a new church plant, Christ Community Lutheran Church –Leesburg- and Leesburg Open Arms in Virginia.. I was recently asked to write about some of the ways we are incorporating “visual arts” into our worship and school communities.  Now, from the outset, I must say that it is hilarious that I am writing in a forum such as this. I have a great appreciation for the arts in all of their forms. But if I am being honest, I have zero talent when it comes to art. My stick figures are lopsided. My coloring is abysmal. And my ability to draw is as good as my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese; I can’t do either.  Now when we study the Scriptures, look at creation, and learn about God, we see that there is a rich creativity in the One who is the creator of all things. Consider the tulip. It is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful flowers out there, a sure sign that winter is over and spring is here. Had I been tasked with creating the tulip, there would have only been one color. But God, in His infinite wisdom and beauty, decided to paint the tulips of the field with all of the colors of the rainbow.  But unfortunately, and I am guilty of this too, sometimes we take the creative beauty of God and hide it. Like my single-colored tulip, we sometimes don’t allow the full beauty of God to be expressed. We make God to be one dimensional and rather simple.  So knowing this about myself, knowing that I prefer to be a bullet-point teacher, and knowing that we live in a hyper-visual world, it is important to me to offer a variety of ways for people to see, hear, touch, and experience the love and grace of God. This, I think, is the fundamental role of churches and pastors. And so this idea plays out in a variety of ways in my personal and professional life. I’d like to highlight 3 ways that this has come to life in my new congregation and school.

My name is Garet Ellis and I am the pastor of a new church plant, Christ Community Lutheran Church –Leesburg- and Leesburg Open Arms in Virginia.. I was recently asked to write about some of the ways we are incorporating “visual arts” into our worship and school communities.

Now, from the outset, I must say that it is hilarious that I am writing in a forum such as this. I have a great appreciation for the arts in all of their forms. But if I am being honest, I have zero talent when it comes to art. My stick figures are lopsided. My coloring is abysmal. And my ability to draw is as good as my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese; I can’t do either.

Now when we study the Scriptures, look at creation, and learn about God, we see that there is a rich creativity in the One who is the creator of all things. Consider the tulip. It is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful flowers out there, a sure sign that winter is over and spring is here. Had I been tasked with creating the tulip, there would have only been one color. But God, in His infinite wisdom and beauty, decided to paint the tulips of the field with all of the colors of the rainbow.

But unfortunately, and I am guilty of this too, sometimes we take the creative beauty of God and hide it. Like my single-colored tulip, we sometimes don’t allow the full beauty of God to be expressed. We make God to be one dimensional and rather simple.

So knowing this about myself, knowing that I prefer to be a bullet-point teacher, and knowing that we live in a hyper-visual world, it is important to me to offer a variety of ways for people to see, hear, touch, and experience the love and grace of God. This, I think, is the fundamental role of churches and pastors. And so this idea plays out in a variety of ways in my personal and professional life. I’d like to highlight 3 ways that this has come to life in my new congregation and school.


The Illuminated Catechism   I have enjoyed this book by Tony Cook and Susan Spellman and used it in a variety of instances throughout my years of ministry. When I got to Leesburg, they would occasionally have a staff Bible study. I was able to teach it for a while, so I bought everyone who wanted to participate a copy of  The Illuminated Catechism . This became a fun tool to be able to teach them about God and for them to grow in their faith and knowledge of Him.

The Illuminated Catechism

I have enjoyed this book by Tony Cook and Susan Spellman and used it in a variety of instances throughout my years of ministry. When I got to Leesburg, they would occasionally have a staff Bible study. I was able to teach it for a while, so I bought everyone who wanted to participate a copy of The Illuminated Catechism. This became a fun tool to be able to teach them about God and for them to grow in their faith and knowledge of Him.


The Enduring Word Bible   We launched our new congregation on September 08, 2019. But before that, we hosted a “Back 2 School Bibles, Brunch, ‘n Bonanza”. We invited to community to come celebrate the start of a new school year and lift our students, teachers, schools up in prayer. And we gave away tons of Bibles.

The Enduring Word Bible

We launched our new congregation on September 08, 2019. But before that, we hosted a “Back 2 School Bibles, Brunch, ‘n Bonanza”. We invited to community to come celebrate the start of a new school year and lift our students, teachers, schools up in prayer. And we gave away tons of Bibles.


We gave away regular Bibles to the adults and  The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook  (I highly recommend this book) to all of our children. We also received a wonderful donation of unique Bibles and books to raffle off to the adults and children.

We gave away regular Bibles to the adults and The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook (I highly recommend this book) to all of our children. We also received a wonderful donation of unique Bibles and books to raffle off to the adults and children.

The number one hit was  The Enduring Word Bible . We are now looking into ways to give this Bible as a Christmas gift to our school administrator and staff who were all hoping to win one.

The number one hit was The Enduring Word Bible. We are now looking into ways to give this Bible as a Christmas gift to our school administrator and staff who were all hoping to win one.


“Create” center   I wanted the new congregation to spend the Sunday before our launch in prayer and praise of God. I wanted to offer a chance for us to bring our anxieties, worries, requests, and praises to God. But I needed it to fit our environment.  You see, our congregation is partners with Leesburg Open Arms, a Christian childcare development center. And so our space is a blend of coffee house and preschool. We have tables, snacks, and beverages for the adults and kids. And on any given Sunday, there might be children’s artwork on the walls. Children are present and participating in worship. And so to engage with prayer in this environment is a little different than it would be if we were in a cathedral.

“Create” center

I wanted the new congregation to spend the Sunday before our launch in prayer and praise of God. I wanted to offer a chance for us to bring our anxieties, worries, requests, and praises to God. But I needed it to fit our environment.

You see, our congregation is partners with Leesburg Open Arms, a Christian childcare development center. And so our space is a blend of coffee house and preschool. We have tables, snacks, and beverages for the adults and kids. And on any given Sunday, there might be children’s artwork on the walls. Children are present and participating in worship. And so to engage with prayer in this environment is a little different than it would be if we were in a cathedral.

I have used resources from the Visual Faith site before and I thought these would be cool to use again. And people engaged. People who weren’t there lamented that they couldn’t participate. So we decided to create a “Create” shelf. It’s a place where you can pick up different prayer cards, art pieces, and drawing tools and you are encouraged to bring them into worship with you. It has been a hit so far.  This has been an interesting journey so far. Engaging with art is not my “normal” in life. I appreciate it. I support it. I want to equip people to experience their faith in God in a variety of ways.

I have used resources from the Visual Faith site before and I thought these would be cool to use again. And people engaged. People who weren’t there lamented that they couldn’t participate. So we decided to create a “Create” shelf. It’s a place where you can pick up different prayer cards, art pieces, and drawing tools and you are encouraged to bring them into worship with you. It has been a hit so far.

This has been an interesting journey so far. Engaging with art is not my “normal” in life. I appreciate it. I support it. I want to equip people to experience their faith in God in a variety of ways.


Thank you for reading this. If you have suggestions or ideas you would like to share with me, I would love it.  I want to better engage our teachers and school staff with different visual faith pieces. I want to support our children in their faith life. So send your ideas to: pastor@christcommunityleesburg.org.

Thank you for reading this. If you have suggestions or ideas you would like to share with me, I would love it. I want to better engage our teachers and school staff with different visual faith pieces. I want to support our children in their faith life. So send your ideas to: pastor@christcommunityleesburg.org.

Counting Gifts Journals -with MOPS

Gathering together for life and faith conversations….

Sometimes it works for Mothers of Preschoolers - to slip out to be together- without their children. A recent Sunday evening in Springfield , Virginia was hosted by MOPS Leaders Sara Wilson and Lulie DiMauro.

Sometimes it works for Mothers of Preschoolers - to slip out to be together- without their children. A recent Sunday evening in Springfield , Virginia was hosted by MOPS Leaders Sara Wilson and Lulie DiMauro.

Blank journals were purchased from Plaza Art (they can ship them right to you) and with calendar pages created by Joanne Fink (from her Etsy store) they were ready to tear paper. The Journal consists of one side to count gifts- one per day. The journal is prepared for one year at this sitting. There is a place to notice a blessing, a gift, or an event to give thanks for in a daily walk. The other side is an image to collect all the prayers of the month. The people, the concerns, situations in life, and thanksgivings. So that we can look back and see every day- that the LORD is faithful. We call this prayer process- Prayers by the Month. It is a grace-filled prayer practice. A Bible verse can be chosen for each month to pray into the lives on the page. Pages were applied with simple glue sticks. Pages can be embellished with stamps and stickers. To begin a journal- start with the upcoming month- so you are ready to go. The other thing to remember is to “catch up” your journal before the year ends—— intentional prayer time does take a bit of preparation.

Blank journals were purchased from Plaza Art (they can ship them right to you) and with calendar pages created by Joanne Fink (from her Etsy store) they were ready to tear paper. The Journal consists of one side to count gifts- one per day. The journal is prepared for one year at this sitting. There is a place to notice a blessing, a gift, or an event to give thanks for in a daily walk. The other side is an image to collect all the prayers of the month. The people, the concerns, situations in life, and thanksgivings. So that we can look back and see every day- that the LORD is faithful. We call this prayer process- Prayers by the Month. It is a grace-filled prayer practice. A Bible verse can be chosen for each month to pray into the lives on the page. Pages were applied with simple glue sticks. Pages can be embellished with stamps and stickers. To begin a journal- start with the upcoming month- so you are ready to go. The other thing to remember is to “catch up” your journal before the year ends—— intentional prayer time does take a bit of preparation.

One paper pack from Michaels- (with your coupon) makes many journals. Have journalers chose- 6-8 pieces of paper they like and that gets them started. Keep the journal open on a counter in your kitchen to catch the “flow of life”. Have conversations with your family about the blessings you SEE. Look back and remember the journey of life— for He is good indeed. A great event for moms of all ages—-time to share a bit of “processing life” together. Of course, this project and gathering can be modified to fit ALL sorts of ages and groups of people.  Sara Wilson serves as a Visual Faith Coach on the Visual Faith Ministry Coaching Team.

One paper pack from Michaels- (with your coupon) makes many journals. Have journalers chose- 6-8 pieces of paper they like and that gets them started. Keep the journal open on a counter in your kitchen to catch the “flow of life”. Have conversations with your family about the blessings you SEE. Look back and remember the journey of life— for He is good indeed. A great event for moms of all ages—-time to share a bit of “processing life” together. Of course, this project and gathering can be modified to fit ALL sorts of ages and groups of people.

Sara Wilson serves as a Visual Faith Coach on the Visual Faith Ministry Coaching Team.

Visual Faith - For ALL PEOPLE

SO how do we open the door for ALL People to engage in Visual Faith practices?

How do we invite ALL people to engage and experiment with Visual Faith practices? One of the things we are asked by planning teams is how to bridge the gender gap. An easy thing to do is- invite everyone!! Make your event or gathering intergenerational and non-gendered. Often events are designated as an event for women- hosted by the Women’s Ministry or the Lutheran WOMEN’S Missionary League. Gathering in our churches can be segregated by age and gender. Visual Faith events can bring all ages together without being exclusionary.

How do we invite ALL people to engage and experiment with Visual Faith practices? One of the things we are asked by planning teams is how to bridge the gender gap. An easy thing to do is- invite everyone!! Make your event or gathering intergenerational and non-gendered. Often events are designated as an event for women- hosted by the Women’s Ministry or the Lutheran WOMEN’S Missionary League. Gathering in our churches can be segregated by age and gender. Visual Faith events can bring all ages together without being exclusionary.

Here is a group of people in Puerto Rico recently that attended a Visual Faith event led by Visual Faith Coach Judy May and the team from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Resources were created in Spanish and we are continuing to find and create new Spanish resources. Some things are up on the VFM website. This event was also attended by men. Once of the things that is helpful is simply to '“not assume” that men would not be interested in Visual Faith practices. Perhaps the assumption to be made is that they are interested in PRAYER. When prayer practices connect to learning style rather than gender- this allows connections to be made that make sense for each person.

Here is a group of people in Puerto Rico recently that attended a Visual Faith event led by Visual Faith Coach Judy May and the team from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Resources were created in Spanish and we are continuing to find and create new Spanish resources. Some things are up on the VFM website. This event was also attended by men. Once of the things that is helpful is simply to '“not assume” that men would not be interested in Visual Faith practices. Perhaps the assumption to be made is that they are interested in PRAYER. When prayer practices connect to learning style rather than gender- this allows connections to be made that make sense for each person.

We know that Preschool teachers are using Visual Faith practices in the classroom with 3 and 4 year olds. Kindergarten is a great age to begin to add words to Visual Prayers. Here- above- we see that at the age of 9- a Visual Faith paper bag journal is a great project for an early elementary student. So when you are thinking about planning an event- ask how this might involve whole families! It is a powerful image to see parents sitting and praying at the table with their children. Memory making happens when there are three generations to share teaching, learning and experimenting with Visual Faith practices. We look forward to seeing how YOU bring ALL PEOPLE together for an event!

We know that Preschool teachers are using Visual Faith practices in the classroom with 3 and 4 year olds. Kindergarten is a great age to begin to add words to Visual Prayers. Here- above- we see that at the age of 9- a Visual Faith paper bag journal is a great project for an early elementary student. So when you are thinking about planning an event- ask how this might involve whole families! It is a powerful image to see parents sitting and praying at the table with their children. Memory making happens when there are three generations to share teaching, learning and experimenting with Visual Faith practices. We look forward to seeing how YOU bring ALL PEOPLE together for an event!

Doors into Prayer - A Visual Faith Event

Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana hosted a Visual Faith event on April 27, 2019.  Thrivent Grants were a big help in putting together the event. Bags all ready to gift to those attending.  Tables set ready to welcome those coming for the Saturday event.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana hosted a Visual Faith event on April 27, 2019.

Thrivent Grants were a big help in putting together the event. Bags all ready to gift to those attending.

Tables set ready to welcome those coming for the Saturday event.

A wonderful array of door prizes were lined up ready to gift to those coming to the event.

A wonderful array of door prizes were lined up ready to gift to those coming to the event.

The morning was a teaching time about Visual Prayer and the afternoon was creative time for making a paper bag journal to gather prayer quotes, thoughts and inspiration.

The morning was a teaching time about Visual Prayer and the afternoon was creative time for making a paper bag journal to gather prayer quotes, thoughts and inspiration.

Conversations centered on prayer thoughts, life experiences, catching up and connecting with each other in this creative time.

Conversations centered on prayer thoughts, life experiences, catching up and connecting with each other in this creative time.

Pat Maier shares here about a simple way to engage in a visual prayer practice. During the afternoon time she shared lettering helps and tips in a small group setting.

Pat Maier shares here about a simple way to engage in a visual prayer practice. During the afternoon time she shared lettering helps and tips in a small group setting.

Marsha Baker of Bless Inks joined us from St. Charles, MO to share her love for Visual Faith practices, meet our community, and share her helpful resources about sketch notes, and all sorts of journaling, lettering and doodling.

Marsha Baker of Bless Inks joined us from St. Charles, MO to share her love for Visual Faith practices, meet our community, and share her helpful resources about sketch notes, and all sorts of journaling, lettering and doodling.

There were multi-generations that attended- bringing siblings, daughters and enjoying the time together — sisters in faith.

There were multi-generations that attended- bringing siblings, daughters and enjoying the time together — sisters in faith.

Here are some of the Versicle prayer cards created by Visual Faith Coach Carla Kramer and distributed to those attending.

Here are some of the Versicle prayer cards created by Visual Faith Coach Carla Kramer and distributed to those attending.

It was fun to make new friends and catch up with long-time friends.

It was fun to make new friends and catch up with long-time friends.

How does prayer change us? Many stories to catch up with on this day!

How does prayer change us? Many stories to catch up with on this day!

We give thanks for all those who attended the Doors into Prayer event in Fort Wayne. A special tanks to Visual Faith Coach Teresa Davis and her team for coordinating this event and for all of their time and effort. We give thanks also for all those who came for today——without you- there is no retreat!

We give thanks for all those who attended the Doors into Prayer event in Fort Wayne. A special tanks to Visual Faith Coach Teresa Davis and her team for coordinating this event and for all of their time and effort. We give thanks also for all those who came for today——without you- there is no retreat!

Our youngest attendee loved making her paper bag journal and sharing the story of prayer in her life. Maybe it is time for YOU to think about putting together a Visual faith event in your faith community!

Our youngest attendee loved making her paper bag journal and sharing the story of prayer in her life. Maybe it is time for YOU to think about putting together a Visual faith event in your faith community!

Lenten Practices Roundup- Part 2

Catching up with some examples of Lenten journey practices. Here is the calendar done by Visual Faith Coach- Candice Schwark. She read the devotion-  On Calvary’s Hill  by Max Lucado.

Catching up with some examples of Lenten journey practices. Here is the calendar done by Visual Faith Coach- Candice Schwark. She read the devotion- On Calvary’s Hill by Max Lucado.

There were a number of people who joined in and worked on the Lent and Easter Tag booklet project. Here are some photos of the project done by Visual Faith Coach Eve Waring.

There were a number of people who joined in and worked on the Lent and Easter Tag booklet project. Here are some photos of the project done by Visual Faith Coach Eve Waring.

Visual Faith Coach Michele Bowden also made a Lent and Easter tag booklet.

Visual Faith Coach Michele Bowden also made a Lent and Easter tag booklet.

Simple images were part of the hand-drawn designs for the tag booklet done by Visual Faith Coach Laura Schumacher.

Simple images were part of the hand-drawn designs for the tag booklet done by Visual Faith Coach Laura Schumacher.

The Middendorf family worked on the Lent and Easter tag project together on Holy Saturday—-  Miss Leighton (on the right) is eagerly exploring processes as a Junior Visual Faith Coach.

The Middendorf family worked on the Lent and Easter tag project together on Holy Saturday—-

Miss Leighton (on the right) is eagerly exploring processes as a Junior Visual Faith Coach.

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Connie Denninger used the resources from the Visual Church Year to spend specific time during Holy Week with the readings from Lectionary C. The printable graphics were used in a 2 page layout for each worship service and then a theme was set and wording was added with junkmail or magazine cutouts.  We are thankful for the sharing of some of the ways that the 2019 Lent and Easter journey was explored and shared!

Connie Denninger used the resources from the Visual Church Year to spend specific time during Holy Week with the readings from Lectionary C. The printable graphics were used in a 2 page layout for each worship service and then a theme was set and wording was added with junkmail or magazine cutouts.

We are thankful for the sharing of some of the ways that the 2019 Lent and Easter journey was explored and shared!

Lenten Practices Roundup- Part 1

Lenten practices Roundup!

Deaconess Sally Hiller shares some of the visuals for her Lenten journey- which includes a devotional station, traceable Lord’s Prayer cross, and coloring calendars. Sometimes having the spot for meditation makes it “doable.”

Deaconess Sally Hiller shares some of the visuals for her Lenten journey- which includes a devotional station, traceable Lord’s Prayer cross, and coloring calendars. Sometimes having the spot for meditation makes it “doable.”

Part of the the encouragement of the Visual Faith Community is the sharing of the various ways practices are carried out, adapted, and invented for Liturgical Seasons of the Church Year. Here is a round up of some of the offerings from Visual Faith Coaches in our community. This photos shows the meditation words for Lent by Visual Faith Coach Faye Krans as a free-hand drawn page.

Part of the the encouragement of the Visual Faith Community is the sharing of the various ways practices are carried out, adapted, and invented for Liturgical Seasons of the Church Year. Here is a round up of some of the offerings from Visual Faith Coaches in our community. This photos shows the meditation words for Lent by Visual Faith Coach Faye Krans as a free-hand drawn page.

Visual Faith Coach Lisa Brass used a downloadable calendar designed by Rachel Hinz on our website to gather her words for prayer time.

Visual Faith Coach Lisa Brass used a downloadable calendar designed by Rachel Hinz on our website to gather her words for prayer time.

This shows part of the journey of Children’s minister and Visual Faith Coach Belinda Bost who shared the Lenten practice that was distributed in her church community in Conover, North Carolina. What a great way to add a dimension that is doable by a family system together.

This shows part of the journey of Children’s minister and Visual Faith Coach Belinda Bost who shared the Lenten practice that was distributed in her church community in Conover, North Carolina. What a great way to add a dimension that is doable by a family system together.

A subdued color palette evokes a Lenten journey on the Lent calendar designed and colored by Pat Maier.

A subdued color palette evokes a Lenten journey on the Lent calendar designed and colored by Pat Maier.

Small images and a word or phrase are collected to make meaningful stopping points in a Lent meditation.

Small images and a word or phrase are collected to make meaningful stopping points in a Lent meditation.

These calendars were shared by Visual Faith Coach Jamee Thieme that were meaningful to her this year in her devotional time.

These calendars were shared by Visual Faith Coach Jamee Thieme that were meaningful to her this year in her devotional time.

Some years the Lent readings require the use of two calendars to collect the words and visual story. Visual Faith Coach Bev Wicher shares her journey with a 2019 calendar and an older version from the Visual Faith Ministry website that she used this year.

Some years the Lent readings require the use of two calendars to collect the words and visual story. Visual Faith Coach Bev Wicher shares her journey with a 2019 calendar and an older version from the Visual Faith Ministry website that she used this year.

The I AM statements were the focus for Lent for Ann Gillaspie- a Visual Faith Coach. She enjoyed doodling in t the negative spaces as she continued to contemplate what the I Am statements meant to her.

The I AM statements were the focus for Lent for Ann Gillaspie- a Visual Faith Coach. She enjoyed doodling in t the negative spaces as she continued to contemplate what the I Am statements meant to her.

Books, blog posts and short Lent devotional readings can all be the stimulus for collecting words and phrases for a calendar. The time spent coloring allows the space for the Holy Spirit to help make the application to our own lives. Thanks to Visual Faith coach- Eden Keefe- for sharing her images.

Books, blog posts and short Lent devotional readings can all be the stimulus for collecting words and phrases for a calendar. The time spent coloring allows the space for the Holy Spirit to help make the application to our own lives. Thanks to Visual Faith coach- Eden Keefe- for sharing her images.

We love when a visual faith practitioner shares their story and journey with us. Thanks to Stacy Obermueller for doing just that! There is  not  JUST ONE WAY to make these practices work. We thank the Lord that these are adaptable, evolving journeys that each person makes work for just who they are and where they are in their own spiritual formation. That is a real Easter blessing!

We love when a visual faith practitioner shares their story and journey with us. Thanks to Stacy Obermueller for doing just that! There is not JUST ONE WAY to make these practices work. We thank the Lord that these are adaptable, evolving journeys that each person makes work for just who they are and where they are in their own spiritual formation. That is a real Easter blessing!

Young Disciples as Visual Faith Artists

What does the Holy Week story look like through the eyes of young artists?

Here is a the story of preschoolers at Prince of Peace Lutheran School

in Srpingfield, Virginia that carry out the 30 year old tradition

of telling this wonderful story— their own way.

They begin by sharing the story of Zaccheus who has something in common with folks of short stature. The 4 year old classes do all of the murals except The Last Supper which is created by the Kindergarten class.  In the 4 year old classes the teachers read the Bible story of the mural they are going to work on, then ask the children for ideas. How can they tell this story with a picture?

They begin by sharing the story of Zaccheus who has something in common with folks of short stature. The 4 year old classes do all of the murals except The Last Supper which is created by the Kindergarten class.

In the 4 year old classes the teachers read the Bible story of the mural they are going to work on, then ask the children for ideas. How can they tell this story with a picture?

The large murals- measuring about 3 by 4 feet in size are begun about 2 weeks before the Easter Chapel schedules. The images are drawn by the young artists, colored, finished, cut out and then assembled in groups to create each story board .

The large murals- measuring about 3 by 4 feet in size are begun about 2 weeks before the Easter Chapel schedules. The images are drawn by the young artists, colored, finished, cut out and then assembled in groups to create each story board .

The Kindergarten class reads several versions of The Last Supper and look at different artist’s interpretations of that story. Then we talk about how they could tell that story.and what elements were essential in the mural to do so.

The Kindergarten class reads several versions of The Last Supper and look at different artist’s interpretations of that story. Then we talk about how they could tell that story.and what elements were essential in the mural to do so.

Most of the art is process art. They are also places for cooperative work together.

Most of the art is process art. They are also places for cooperative work together.

Visual Faith Coach- Bonnie Hughes also serves as the Preschool Art Teacher. Her long tenure in this position has led to the development of wonderful Visual story telling. The murals are then all placed in the Sanctuary for the Easter Chapels- when families, grandparents and friends come to hear the stories and join in the worship together. Bonnie Hughes says this about the project-  “This art is an example of children working not only as artists, but as disciples of Jesus ,telling important faith stories through their work."

Visual Faith Coach- Bonnie Hughes also serves as the Preschool Art Teacher. Her long tenure in this position has led to the development of wonderful Visual story telling. The murals are then all placed in the Sanctuary for the Easter Chapels- when families, grandparents and friends come to hear the stories and join in the worship together. Bonnie Hughes says this about the project-

“This art is an example of children working not only as artists, but as disciples of Jesus ,telling important faith stories through their work."

The murals are left in the Church Narthex to greet all worshippers for Holy Week. You can almost hear the Alleluia - He is Alive! Thank you to Bonnie Hughes for the photos and story to share with the Visual Faith Community. Blessed Holy Week and Easter to all!

The murals are left in the Church Narthex to greet all worshippers for Holy Week. You can almost hear the Alleluia - He is Alive! Thank you to Bonnie Hughes for the photos and story to share with the Visual Faith Community. Blessed Holy Week and Easter to all!

Visual Faith Assembly

We gathered in Springfield, Virginia for a Visual Faith Assembly on August 3, 2018 to bring resources and encouragement to Visual Faith practitioners.

We gathered in Springfield, Virginia for a Visual Faith Assembly on August 3, 2018 to bring resources and encouragement to Visual Faith practitioners.

We welcomed Lutheran Social Serves- National Capital Area to the event to offer prayers and encouragement for the Immigrant Families and especially for the children in the United States detention centers. Chief Executive Officer- Christine Connell came to meet folks and head the prayer project. We are hoping to use this event as a prototype to add Visual Prayer to events and gatherings.We used prayer cards found in Resources on the Visual Faith Ministry website and then added Bible verses to pray over the families and children.

We welcomed Lutheran Social Serves- National Capital Area to the event to offer prayers and encouragement for the Immigrant Families and especially for the children in the United States detention centers. Chief Executive Officer- Christine Connell came to meet folks and head the prayer project. We are hoping to use this event as a prototype to add Visual Prayer to events and gatherings.We used prayer cards found in Resources on the Visual Faith Ministry website and then added Bible verses to pray over the families and children.

Anyone can pray for these families and share their prayers using this hashtag- #WelcomeInColor.

Anyone can pray for these families and share their prayers using this hashtag- #WelcomeInColor.

Welcome comes in many languages.

Welcome comes in many languages.

We printed off the Bible verses and then they could simple be added to the prayer cards. Prayer time finished them with watercolor and colored pencil. May these families be blessed.

We printed off the Bible verses and then they could simple be added to the prayer cards. Prayer time finished them with watercolor and colored pencil. May these families be blessed.

We also tried our hands at Polaroid Praise - watercolor and Sharpie pens on watercolor paper.

We also tried our hands at Polaroid Praise - watercolor and Sharpie pens on watercolor paper.

Visual Faith Coach Erika Radke also helped with some string painting- In and out of our Bibles.

Visual Faith Coach Erika Radke also helped with some string painting- In and out of our Bibles.

Time to check in, encourage creativity, and see all the ways that the Lord is writing the stories in our lives.

Time to check in, encourage creativity, and see all the ways that the Lord is writing the stories in our lives.

A young Bible Journaler plans out her very first Bible entry.. Photo credit to Genevieve Cooper

A young Bible Journaler plans out her very first Bible entry.. Photo credit to Genevieve Cooper

Welcome in Color- Refugees and Immigrants

It was late on a Wednesday evening and the woman’s voice on the other end of the phone sounded forlorn. She was anxious with questions and despairing when I was unable to provide the answers she was hoping to hear. Over the previous few days, my colleagues and I had become accustomed to these calls. The effects of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy had hit every major news outlet.  We all had witnessed young children being pulled from their mother’s hands and the desperate voices pleading officers to call a phone number that they had previously memorized and practiced.  

“What can I do?” The woman asked, “How can I help? I have a room in my house for a child at the border. They should not be in those cages, lying on the cold floor.” 

I gave her the contact information for a few partner organizations near the border. “We do have an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program,” I told her. “But the children at the border have families and the first priority is to reunify them with loved ones. At this time, we are not receiving any cases from the border,” I told her. 

After a dozen of these calls, it was obvious that our community members were feeling helpless. They needed an outlet, and these children needed to know that they were cared for and loved by so many in our country. Our staff brainstormed and researched and found that it was impossible to physically reach these children or parents waiting in detentions and processing centers. Nothing would be allowed in, no greeting cards, no games, no blankets or comfort of any kind. 

But there is one thing that cannot be censored or stopped: our prayers. 

 

LSS/NCA is participating in the Visual Faith Workshop on August 3 in Springfield, Virginia. Our staff will be hosting a table where participants can learn more about refugee resettlement efforts and foster care for refugee children as we pray and meditate on Bible verses that remind us the value of demonstrating love to our neighbors and welcoming the stranger. 

During the event, prayer cards will be available for children and adults to color and send messages to the families on our Southern border. Although we are unable to physically send the cards to holding centers, we can still spread our prayers and compassion through your help.

Here’s how you can participate: 

Download a free prayer card: Do your kids need a summer craft project? Prayer cards are a great way to teach them about current events through the power of compassion and kindness. Ask them to color a prayer card for a refugee or immigrant welcoming them to our communities.

Encouragement Cards (English)

Encouragement Cards (Spanish)

Prayer Cards

 

Display your prayer cards: Ask your congregation or faith leader permission to hang your cards in a Sunday school classroom, a display board, or meeting place. There may be someone in your own church community that would benefit from your message of welcome. 

 

Share on social media: Tweet, post or pin using #WelcomeInColor. Share your prayer cards or Bible journaling margins, and encourage others to lift up their voices for those in need of friendship. By using #WelcomeInColor, LSS/NCA and Visual Faith boards will be able to share and repost your image. Together, we can ignite compassion and welcome those who seeking refuge.

Autumn Orme, LSS/NCA Communications Director

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