The Westfield Center for Liturgical Creativity
Welcome to the Westfield Center for Liturgical Creativity. Funded in part by a generous grant from the Windham Association of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, the center strives to (1) create engaging visual worship and (2) share those installations with other congregations. Take a look through our altarscapes or worship installations. See something you like? Let us know! We’re are excited to think creatively with you as you explore visual worship opportunities for your congregation.
Telling the Story
Churches are places that tell stories. Week in and week out we share the stories of our faith. We tell the stories of healings and miracles, we recount wars and prophecies. Time and again we are reminded of God’s unending love. We also tell the stories of the faithful–of those who were so committed to their faith that they would leave their country of origin for freer (and scarier) wilderness on another continent. We tell the stories of the faithful who belonged to our churches–who made the same promises we make at a baptism or shared in the same bread we break during Holy Communion. Churches are places that tell stories.
One way we tell those stories is through worship. Every week we come together on the day of Christ’s resurrection (which tells a story in itself) to be reminded of the ways God has worked and continues to work in the world. During our service we tell the age old story of how our encounters with God and God’s Word inspire us to action in Christ’s name.
Even how our space is set up tells stories. The table reminds us of Christ’s love for us, of his extravagant welcome, of how we are all invited to gather around his table. The baptismal font reminds us of the promises we made as we baptize a child–and that those promises were made for us, too. So the question becomes this: how else do we visually engage worshippers?
In an effort to stay relevant, some immediately suggest video projection aids. Admittedly, projectors do add visual interest to a service and they can serve to streamline bulletins and the overall flow of worship. But installing such technology in an historic church in a way that enhances rather than detracts is nearly impossible. It also isn’t authentic to this congregation that prides itself on its tradition. How else can we visually engage worshippers? We engage them by telling the story to their eyes.
Adorning vs. Decorating: Pointing to the Bigger Picture
One of the distinctions we attempt to make to the congregation as we watch different visualizations of the Gospel come into being is this: decorating is not the same as adorning. We decorate our houses for different seasons or holidays throughout the year. We adorn our sanctuary to point to the bigger story about God’s work in this world. At Christmas, these adornments include evergreens (a symbol of God’s never-ending love) and candles (a reminder that the Light came into the world and the darkness did not overcome it).
Likewise, when we are considering other seasonal adornments, the question that must remain at the center of those plans is: how does this point to God? This project should not just be pretty for the sake of being pretty. It should be something that reveals a truth about our faith or creates a place where we can delve into our faith more deeply.