Issue 6 – Summer 2011
- About This Issue
- Conversations: The Rev. Esme Jo Culver
- Gleanings From the Vineyard: Creating Expression
- Children’s Day: The Saints Lauded – Twice!
- Reflections from Barb: A Word from our Missioner
- Creating SPARKS in the City
- Speaking of Resources: Helps in Print, Sound, Sight and Cyberspace
- Rebuilding Our Church in Haiti project
- Coming Up: Important Dates to Note
ABOUT THIS ISSUE
In addition to our usual features, in this issue of New Wine, we focus on creativity. When the three-legged stool of Anglicanism was first articulated, before the so-called Age of Reason, the understanding of what reason meant was something much broader than simply “intellect.” It was identified as ALL those qualities we human beings have as a result of being made in the image of God, “a little lower than the angels”: our ability to think, indeed, but also our ability to experience things through our senses, to imagine, to feel emotion, to remember the past, and to anticipate the future. In other words, our God-given creative capacities. We create because God first created and set in motion the forces that continue creating the heavens and the earth even now. Whatever we can do in the context of formation to foster creativity – through the arts, involvement with new people, places and ideas, and encouragement to work for the kinds of changes in the world that redeem and restore – is “reason” being lived out, wholly and holy. In this busy summer season, take a little time to allow your “reason” (in that more complete sense) to play with Scripture and tradition. Our Anglican heritage suggests that this is surely one of the places where God can be found.
CONVERSATIONS: The Rev. Esme Jo Culver
The Grace Art Camp at Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, Portland, is legendary in the diocese and around the city and state as a wonderful place for children to explore creativity. An outgrowth of an effort by some of the artists in the parish who were concerned about the increasing cut-backs in arts education in the public schools, the art camp, begun as a one week camp with 90 children in 1996, anticipates that 1050 children from Portland will participate over a seven-week period. For this issue of New Wine, we interviewed the Rev. Esme Jo Culver, Associate Rector at Grace, who also serves as Executive Director of the Grace Institute, about the art camp, use of the arts in parish formation, and her thoughts on formation in general.
First, tell us a little about yourself, about your own formation?
I grew up in a beautiful part of Wales, with plenty of time to contemplate creation in all its raw beauty and a sense of God’s presence and love for me which sustained me as I moved to the US alone as a young adult and eventually became a single mom running my own business. Eventually I went off to seminary and walked through the entry way at Grace Memorial in July 2007 and was met by Greek music and children everywhere. Grace Art Camp was “visiting” Greece that summer. I was newly ordained as a Transitional Deacon, a few months away from ordination to the priesthood and came to Grace to begin to learn the ropes. What I began to learn that day and has become a huge part of my continuing formation is how to recapture the wonder of all creation as seen through a child’s eye. A seminary professor once told us all to “prepare to be surprised by God,” as we left the hallowed halls for work in the church and he was right on. The last thing I expected to be doing in or near a church was to be running one of the largest art camps in the city. Coming from a secular profession that included mass coordination and staffing, I thought that God was moving me toward something else. God did and then some, but God would not let me leave behind what God knows I do well, even on the days when I wonder how! I think life-long formation is just that – God’s weaving together all the experiences of our lifetimes so far with the amazing grace of the Gospel.
Tell us a little about the history of the Grace Art Camp.
Well, it began in 1995 as part of the mission of Grace Institute which itself is an outgrowth an extraordinary, long-term commitment by Grace Memorial Episcopal Church to meet broader community needs. Over the years, Grace Institute has focused on the arts, education, health care, and urban livability – reflecting the challenges facing the urban communities around Grace Memorial Church. So, Grace Art Camp was first developed in 1996 as a response to the declining funding for arts education in Portland Public Schools. Upon this base other art programs were created for children, youth and adults: Grace Academy, Grace Art Day Camps, Grace Arts for Peace Camp, and Grace Art Classes. In 2005 Grace Institute was separately incorporated from Grace Episcopal Memorial Church, although a structured relationship continues, to increase funding possibilities. Grace Art Camp provides a high quality, process-orientated environment for children from ages 4 – 12 years. Though it started out as a one-week camp, run by parish artists who wanted to ensure children were exposed to the arts, today it involves well-experienced staff, artists, counselors, and counselors-in-training. Grace Art Camp encourages children to creatively explore new skills and ideas through music, dance, drama, visual arts, book arts, ceramics, glass, and fiber arts. Each year at Grace Art Camp, a different country and its culture are studied through the use of stories important to that culture. These stories form the basis for art projects that the children create and culminate in a collection of artwork which is then featured in a community-wide sharing event.
I understand that the Art Camp also has a global outreach component. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Since we use stories from a different country and its culture every year it is only natural to try to create real connections between our children in Portland and the people in the country in which we are immersing ourselves. Last year at Grace Art Camp we embraced the culture of the Caribbean. Due to the Haiti disaster, we decided to make little rings from leftover pieces of glass to see as a fundraiser. We expected to make a few hundred dollars, but by the end of camp found we had raised $9, 500 in rings alone. Other donations rolled in and we were able to send $11,500 for Haiti Relief.
This year our Grace Art Camp culture interest takes us to the Serengeti and we have found two great projects for which to fund raise. The Daraja Girls Academy in Kenya (www.daraja-academy.org) and the Harambee Center in Chwele Village, Kenya. (www.harambeecentre.org or Google Chwele Village Kenya Harambee ) We will be making simple Masai style rafiki(friendship) bracelets for sale in hopes to raise funds for 1) a scholarship for a girl to attend Daraja Academy and 2) Chwele village to assist in the completion of their community center which will house medical clinic, class rooms, community rooms, etc.
If another parish is interested in using the arts, either for formation or outreach or both, how might it begin?
One often hears it said that “passion pays!” and I truly believe that in the case of Grace Institute and Grace Art Camp, the passion is there and because it is, the camp is successful. We are passionate about bringing art to children, passionate about being highly professional in the way we produce and deliver all our programming and passionate about the standards we employ for hiring, training and motivating our artists, counselors and counselors-in-training. If a parish would like to start a program like Grace Art Camp it must ask itself “why?” At Grace there were artists who didn’t like the way their kids were losing the opportunity to do art at school and they wanted to fill the void. So, maybe another parish feels the same way, and has some artists who are willing to donate time in order to get something started, and has a congregation that is willing to donate some serious hours and time for the same reason. Or perhaps the passion lies within some other aspect of creation. How to begin? Come together to discover the “void.” What is missing in your community inside and outside the walls of our church that your parish can bring back in some way? What does that community really need that it doesn’t currently have? And…….are you passionate enough to devote a lot of time for the cause?
I know summer is a busy time for you as it is for many people who work with parish formation – but what do you do to “feed your soul” in the midst of the fray?
Between my work in the church and work as Grace Institute Director, I don’t have a lot of spare time. I’m working on that and have rediscovered the art of exercise at the local gym! That’s good for the body, but I feed my soul in many ways: My work itself feeds me…that’s why I don’t think of it as work….just so much to do with too little time! Lots of pulling of weeds, perusing garden books and imagining how my old house would look with more climbing roses here and a new tree there. I don’t get too much time to spend there, so the time I do have is all the more precious. I love to entertain family and friends and enjoy too-fleeting time out for conversation on the porch. I read just about anything in print and never tire of reading the latest theologian or scriptural commentary but I’m always sure to have a good novel going as well. Most importantly, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit urging me on while at the same time urging me to balance. Between God and my dog, Bailey (who I believe must have been sent by God), I’m learning about that!
GLEANINGS FROM THE VINEYARD: CREATING EXPRESSION
(Editor’s note: This is adapted from an article by artist Mar Goman and is taken from the files of the Vineyard. While the article focuses on children and the arts, it occurs to me that all of these suggestions would work with youth and adults and in a multi-generational setting as well!)
Most church school teachers have a supply of seasonal craft projects up their sleeves, but many of us feel less equipped to facilitate genuine creative expression in children beyond. But if you are willing to put with a little mess and remain fairly open about the actual results of the project, there are many ways to help the process along. An excellent resource book is Ladder of Angels by Madeleine L’Engle, not because it provides concrete ideas, but because it is beautifully illstrates with drawings and paintings made by children around the world. Robert Coles’s Spiritual Life of Children is another good resource in getting a feel for the power of imagination set free to “picture” God.
MATERIALS are important. Children will become much more involved in artwork if they get to use fun materials …. and PAINT is a big favorite! Keep a supply of old shirts for art smocks and some newspaper for the floor. The mess is well worth the enthusiasm and results generated. Allow children to work as large as possible. Large paper and large brushes are particularly important for smaller children. And for older children, large brushes keep them from becoming too fussy and detailed or realistic.
RULES are helpful. When children draw and paint, tell them they may NOT make hearts, rainbows, smile-faces, or other pop icons unless it is appropriate as when illustrating the story of Noah’s ark! Also tell them that ALL of the white space on their paper must be filled in. There is a remarkable difference in children’s work when this rule is used. BUT be sure you don’t ask them to do this and then provide only fine-tipped markers or crayons, or great frustration will set in! (Hint: Crayons stripped of paper may be used on their sides for broad strokes!)
SEQUENTIAL STORIES: Using paint, crayon or markers, ask each child to illustrate just one scene from a Bible story. Break the story down into “frames” and assign a frame to each child. You might ask another child to write out a simple story line to display with each drawing. This is always a good display to put up in the parish hall for everyone to see, too.
PAINTING TO MUSIC: I’ve made a tape with a number of short musical selections ranging from church folk songs to the Messiah to carousel music to Gregorian chant. I give children several pieces of paper and have them draw or paint the way each piece of music “feels.” This is a good project for talking about music as a way of praising God or expressing our own feelings. It is also a good introduction to the Psalms as expressive music. You might also ask the children to make up a “psalm” praising God, expressing their own sadness, joy, awe, sorrow or asking God for help. These, too, can be illustrated with paintings.
BIBLE STORIES: Instead of asking children to illustrate a Bible story, you might ask them to paint how the characters in the story feel or how the story makes them feel. For example, how did the boy Samuel feel when he heard a voice in the night? How would they feel if they heard a voice? How did Samuel feel when he knew it was God’s voice?
COLLAGES: This is a good way to get children away from attempts at representational, literal artwork. Give them colored paper, tissue paper, gluesticks, and background paper. Have them tear the pieces of paper and glue them down to illustrate a story or feeling.
REINFORCING CREATIVITY: Continually remind children that every one’s artwork should look different because we are unique people and our work expresses us and our own personal feelings and thoughts. Ask children to tell about their work and, for younger children, write what they say on the bottom and back of the work. This adds a special dimension, especially if the work is displayed. Make positive comments to the children about their level of involvement in the process rather than stressing the results. At the end of art sessions, engage the class in prayer, thanking God for making beautiful colors, eyes to see, hands to paint and ears to hear God’s story.
One hundred and twenty-five children and more than fifty adult helpers attended Saints Alive! our 2011 Children’s Day program. Children’s Day at the Cathedral was held February 26 at Trinity Cathedral and our first-ever Children’s Day in the Valley took place May 21 at St. Thomas, Eugene. At both locations, children explored the lives of ancient and modern saints through creative and engaging worship, prayer, music, story, crafts, and games. We give thanks to our host churches, to the many parents and grandparents who brought children, and to the following people who made it all possible:
- Saints Who Shared the Good News – Pamela Filbert (St. Timothy, Salem) and Maureen Hagen (St. Luke the Physician, Gresham)
- Saints of Compassion – Sarah Gibson (All Saints, Portland) and Dee-dee Walters (Prince of Peace, Salem)
- Saints of Justice –Leslie Sackett (St. Michael & All Angels, Portland), Tamara Still (Trinity Cathedral), and Peggy Bernhard (Good Samaritan, Corvallis)
- Saints of Vision – Charissa Simmons (Trinity Cathedral), Cindra Gray (St. Michael/San Miguel, Newberg), and Maron Van (Resurrection, Eugene)
And special thanks to Stephanie Wight who came all the way from Hawaii to do the shopping for us!
And a montage of photos from the events:
REFLECTIONS FROM BARB: A Word from our Missioner
During the years that I served as Director of Children and Family Ministries at St. Paul’s in Salem, we took advantage of summer as an opportunity engage our children and families in what we would now refer to as Lifelong Christian Formation. We began the summer with Vacation Bible School which was an unusual, but very successful partnership with our neighboring American Baptist Church and a large Roman Catholic Church. The three churches began working together in 1992 and have continued to this day, serving well over 100 children plus youth and adult leaders every summer.
In July, St. Paul’s sponsored a week-long Arts Camp using a multi-cultural theme to engage children from the church and the wider community in exploring the music and arts of a specific region or culture. It was a wonderful way to include children and adults who otherwise might never set foot in a church.
And in September we began the new program year with a weekend Family Retreat using a theme from one of Jesus’s “I am” statements. I remember families baking bread together at The Bread of Life, stomping grapes at The Cup of Salvation, creating with wool and yarn at The Good Shepherd, and making clay pots at You are the Potter, We are the Clay. What rich experiential learning, what wonderful family fun, and what a tremendous amount of good work!
I know many of you are doing similar things this summer. Hats off to you for giving of your time to take advantage of the time of year when children are available for more than 45 minutes on an occasional Sunday. Summer is such a rich opportunity for Lifelong Christian Formation. If your congregation hasn’t yet planned a summer or fall activity, there is still time. In addition to the ideas mentioned above, several new resources from Episcopal Relief and Development are highlighted in Paula’s Speaking of Resources column. Summer or fall would also be a great opportunity to try one of the new resources on Haiti which have been published in connection with The Episcopal Church campaign Rebuilding Our Church in Haiti. (See the article below for more information.)
May this summer be one of growth for you and your congregation!
CREATING SPARKS IN THE CITY
August 1-12, Trinity Cathedral, Portland, is sponsoring a new kind of day camp experience for middle schoolers from throughout the diocese. Billed as “SPARKS! Summer Service in the City @Trinity,”the camp will combine service projects in agencies around Portland with art, music, games and traditional camp fun. During the two weeks, each camper will have the opportunity to explore what “sparks” them – what brings them joy and energy, what they love spending time doing, what opportunities they find most compelling. Possible projects may include preparing and serving food to the homeless and elderly, doing art projects with children and senior citizens, caring for animals, working outdoors on urban environmental projects. The camp has been dubbed as “a Peace Corps experience for middle schoolers.” Though this will not be a residential camp, any student in the diocese who has completed grades 6-8 is welcome to apply, assuming they have a place in the Portland Metro area to stay at the end of each day. Tuition is $250 per week with some financial aid available.
Equally important in creating sparks is the leadership component of the program for high school and college age youth. High schoolers will serve as counselors for the program: leading activities and small groups, working with middle school youth, focusing on leadership skills, and undertaking service to the community while earning a small stipend. College students will work on the paid leadership team, working with high schooler counselors on planning and leadership skills, helping Middle Schoolers discover their sparks, creating and leading activities and fostering understanding of social justice issues and ways to respond. Again, applications for both kinds of leadership opportunities are open to any young person in the diocese who would like to learn more about leadership in a service setting.
For more information and applications visit www.trinitySPARKS.org or contact the Outreach Office at Trinity, 503-478-1210.
SPEAKING OF RESOURCES
FOR YOUR BOOKSHELF
- Children of God Storybook Bible
Since the publication the King James Bible in 1611, there have been countless translations of Scripture. This collection of beloved Bible stories as retold by Archbishop Desmond Tutu emphasizes that every child is a “unique and precious gift to the world” and that God loves everyone equally. In the introduction to the book, Archbishop Tutu writes that God wants us to fill our lives with love by doing three important things: Do what is RIGHT, be KIND TO ONE ANOTHER and be FRIENDS WITH GOD. Each of the 56 stories from both the Old and New Testaments is beautifully illustrated by talented artists from around the world and includes a short prayer. Although designed for preschool and younger elementary children, youngsters of all ages (including adults) will find this book absolutely delightful. It is lovingly written and would make a wonderful addition to your church library or as a gift to any child. The following website includes samples of the illustrations and audio versions of Bishop Tutu reading some of the stories. http://childrenofgodbible.com/
- ADULT EDUCATION RESOURCE: Krista Tippett on Being
Those who listen to National Public Radio are probably familiar with a program hosted by Krista Tippett called On Being (formerly Speaking of Faith). Each week’s program focuses on a different theme with well-known guests discussing how religion shapes their daily lives. Church Publishing has produced a study program that includes audio excerpts from the radio program and a detailed study guide with suggestions for discussion, worship and options for creative response.
Four 5-session modules are currently available on the following topics:
- Living Islam: Expanding our Understanding
- Einstein’s God: Science, Faith and the Life of Wonder
- Spiritual Heroes: Women and Men on the Frontiers of Faith
- Sustainable Faith: God, the Environment and Human Responsibility
Each module, including a printable study guide (as PDF’s) and the related audio files (MP3s) is available for $39.95 and can be downloaded at www.ChurchPublishing.org/OnBeing. The Resource Room has a copy available for preview. Go to http://being.publicradio.org/ for more information about the radio program itself.
- Children’s Programs from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD)
ERD offers two children’s programs that are ideal for summer activities.
The Abundant Life Garden Project is based on the Baptismal Covenant with sessions focusing on Bible stories about water, seeds, soil, animals and harvest. This is an ideal resource for those with a community garden project. The new Real Heroes versus Rita Mosquito focuses on malaria prevention and empowering learners to address it. This new teaching tool will introduce children to malaria and how it’s prevented, and empower them to participate in the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund. This fund is a church-wide campaign inspiring Episcopalians to help fight the spread of malaria by increasing awareness and raising $5 million for NetsforLife®, a program partnership serving communities in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The materials for Real Heroes versus Rita Mosquito were developed by Stephanie Wight and Jenny Wallace. Stephanie was the former Resource Room Coordinator for the Diocese of Oregon and is well-known for her creative ideas. Go to the following website for more information about these programs and to download free materials: http://www.er-d.org/children
- Building Faith: An Online Community for Christian Educators
This is an invaluable website that you will want to bookmark and refer to regularly for best practices in Christian formation. The May issue includes seasonal resources and curriculum reviews. http://www.buildfaith.org Sharon Ely Pearson, Christian Education Specialist for Church Publishing, provides a wealth of information on the latest resources and curriculum for Christian formation on her blog, http://rowsofsharon.com/ and her monthly newsletter, Living-IN-Formation. To subscribe to her newsletter go to http://www.morehouseeducation.org
- Episcopal Teacher
The Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary publishes a quarterly newsletter that can be mailed or downloaded for free. Go to the following link to find the spring 2011 issue that includes suggestions for Pentecost and summer activities. http://www.vts.edu/cmt/published
The Center’s website also includes tips on selecting church school curriculum as well as reviews of several curricula for children, youth and adults. You can also download the entire 3-year cycle of the Episcopal Children’s Curriculum and the Episcopal Youth Curriculum from the website. http://www.vts.edu/podium/default.aspx?t=119583
Games to Give Away
We are running out of space in the Resource Room for new materials, so we have several games for children and youth that need homes including: Scruples, Bible Challenge, Conversations To Go, Life Stories and several more. Contact Paula Franck (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in having any of the games.
If you are still looking for ideas for Pentecost, summer programs or Vacation Bible School, the Resource Center has a wide variety of curriculum, print and audio-visual materials that are available for preview and loan. Contact Paula Franck, volunteer Resource Room Coordinator, by e-mail (email@example.com) to request materials or for further suggestions.
In response to a request from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and with the blessing of our own Bishop Michael Hanley, the Episcopal Church’s campaign Rebuild Our Church in Haiti has been selected at our 2011 Diocesan Outreach project. The Diocese of Haiti which has 90,000 Episcopalians is the largest diocese in The Episcopal Church. The Holy Cross Cathedral complex is the spiritual, educational, medical, and cultural heart of the country of Haiti. Prior to the earthquake, The Diocese of Haiti sponsored 97 churches; 256 Episcopal schools including pre-schools, secondary and trade schools; Holy Cross hospital, 15 health centers, a school of nursing and many arts and music programs. In January of 2010, 70% of their buildings were destroyed in 38 seconds. While many groups including The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund and our own Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) are providing basic sanitation, clean water, and temporary shelters; no other group is going to rebuild the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Haiti. Dioceses throughout the country and responding to Bishop Katharine’s call for help, and we have an opportunity to be part of that.
There are many resources available to help. The Episcopal Church Foundation is coordinating the appeal. Extensive, professional quality resources (flyers, bulletin inserts, e-news, newsletters, volunteer trainings materials, etc.) are available on The Episcopal Church website at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/HaitiAppeal/. Hope for Haiti, a down-loadable Christian formation resource which is full of wonderful ideas for educating your congregation about Haiti, is available at minimal cost from LeaderResources at http://www.leaderresources.org/. Links to these resources will be available on our diocesan website. In addition, we plan to have a workshop for local coordinators at the From Generation to Generation conference which is scheduled for September 24 at Trinity Cathedral.
Our hope is that every individual or family unit in our diocese will be able to purchase one $10 symbolic brick to help rebuild The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Haiti. We encourage congregations to plan a local ingathering on All Saints Sunday, November 6 and then to bring a check from your congregation to Diocesan Convention, which will be held November 10-12 in Salem.
COMING UP. . .
The Safeguarding God’s Children portion of the SAFE Church training has been scheduled at the following locations :
*Saturday, June 11 – St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukie, 8:30 to 12:30pm
*Thursday, July 28 – Trinity Cathedral, Portland, 1 to 5pm
*Saturday, September 10 – Grace, Astoria, 8:30 to 12:30pm
Online registration and additional information is available on the diocesan website. Go to www.diocese-oregon and from the tabs across the top, click on Commission and Ministries and again on SAFE Church. Additional trainings are being scheduled for the fall. For further information, please contact Barbara Ross, Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation at 971-204-4111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Introduction to Godly Play – Saturday June 18 9-4
*Godly Play Core training – Thursday, Friday July 7-9
* Introduction to Godly Play- Tuesday, Wednesday August 9 & 10 6-9 pm, two part class
Contract Charissa Simmons, 503-478-1220, email@example.com
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From Generation to Generation, our 2nd annual conference on Lifelong Christian Formation is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Trinity Cathedral. This year’s keynoter will be Julia McCray-Goldsmith, Ministry Development Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of California. Registration information will be available soon. Questions? Contact Barbara Ross, Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 971-204-4111, or 1-800-452-2562 ext. 111.