SPOTLIGHT: Piecing Together Children’s Time and the Community

10/14/2014

Somerset church creates Bible-based quilts for the homeless from children's worship time artwork

Most churches try to incorporate a ‘children’s time’ during worship service, but Congregational Christian Church of Somerset, UCC, is taking an extra step and involving the entire congregation, and even the community, in the children’s messages.

Each Sunday the pastor marks the Gospel portion of the Lectionary for the following Sunday, and selects a child to be responsible for the next Sunday’s service. The child receives a bag containing a Bible with a bookmarked page, a piece of white cloth about the size of a piece of paper, and fabric markers.  The child is then tasked with illustrating the assigned Bible story on the piece of fabric, and then presenting their artwork and its meaning to the congregation the following Sunday.

“This project gets families to spend time together with the Bible and develop ways to share what they learn,” said Rev. Cheryl L. Rieder, pastor of the church.  “It incorporates the use of art and Spirit, while helping young people develop skills in public speaking.  It even teaches adults that they can learn from the children.”

The weekly illustrations and messages are not soon forgotten.  The individual pieces of art are then hung in the church office for all to see.  At the end of the school year, a member of the church will sew all the pieces together into several quilts.  The quilts will be displayed at the church’s 175th Anniversary in 2016 – and then donated to the homeless in the local community.

The idea sprung out of The Best of Whole People of God  online lectionary-based Sunday school curriculum used by the church. “What is being preached from the pulpit, taught in the Sunday school, and going home for family discussion is all the same topic from the Bible,” said Rieder.  “I know other churches are doing this or have done it already, but I wanted to share how wonderfully it is working in our community.”

From December 2011 until June 2012, the church was engaged in the New Beginnings/Crossroads program, sponsored by the Conference.  According to Rieder, the program has helped the congregation name their assets and see their community’s needs. “We’re now better able to identify ways where we can play an active role in meeting the needs that exist in our community and our world,” she said.

“Jesus taught us to care for our neighbors, and we hope this project is helping us to grow in God's Word,” said Rieder.  “When the quilts are distributed, we will be literally wrapping a person in need of warmth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ – just as each illustration depicts on the individual fabric squares. It helps convey, in both art and deed, what the gospel of John teaches us -- "that they may all be one".”
 
Rev. Cheryl L. Rieder can be reached at the church office at 508-672-6623 or uccsomersetchurch@gmail.com.


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