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Using Art to Include Shut-ins in Worship and Church Life

When church members suffer strokes, serious illnesses or other challenges, their ability to attend worship is severely hampered. Too often, they fall off the congregation’s radar. According to the Rev. Colleen Kwong, a part-time minister of arts at Christ UCC in Milwaukee, home visits that include art can help shut-ins connect with the life of their faith community. For example, she said in an interview posted to the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, a website devoted to promoting and strengthening worship in Christian worship communities, “For Lent we put together a Lenten booklet and asked everyone from the congregation, including children and regular attenders, to contribute. ... Some people that we might call “shut-ins” participated too. For example, one woman wrote, ‘When I was young, God rained in a gentle spring shower and I grew...Now life is like a peaceful river and I’m flowing with God.’“ Other church members who had heard her name in corporate prayer but didn’t really know her “didn’t realize she was still so vital.” Her contribution brought her more deeply into the minds and hearts of the church community.

Similarly, Rev. Kwong has made a travel communion set that includes a chalice, paten and cloth “so I can set a beautiful table of hospitality.” The point, she said, is not efficiency, but “bringing the church, in miniature, to the people.” One shut-in, Kwong reported, “said to me, with tears in her eyes, ‘I miss the sanctuary so much. Thank you for bringing the church to me.’“ Because everyone has a passion or gift, Kwong said, God invites us to “live it out and offer it to the church.” Also see our feature article, “The Changing Nature of Worship,” for an exploration of the ways worship is becoming more expressive.

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