Liturgical (and Affordable!) Art

The following is a more "practical" post. Below I have displayed two examples of affordable liturgical art that I hope will be used by congregations seeking affordable ways to embrace the mystery of worship in new and creative ways. If you have any questions about the process of these methods, please do not hesitate to contact me! With the unfortunate economy and dwindling numbers, many PC(USA) churches are shrinking their budget in order to simply survive. When facing this very real obstacle, considering liturgical art might seem a foolish and fiscally unresponsible venture. Such a sentiment is not surprising when even the most simple of liturgical decorations can cost several hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars! However, I would like to share with you a few examples of liturgical art that is both visually (and spiritually) stimulating without having the cost which makes finance committees shudder.

IMG_0088 IMG_0089

I first experienced this method of liturgical art at Cherokee Retreat Center in Cartersville, Georgia. For four years now I have been on staff at Camp Cherokee, a ministry of Cherokee Presbytery. My friend and boss, Jean Howington, introduced me to this method of art which the campers of all ages loved! The above pictures are taken of the piece of art that was created with this method this past December for Columbia Theological Seminary's service of Lessons and Carols. The entire project (which is reusable!) cost around 50 dollars!

As you can see, this is a simple wooden frame that is make to fit a full size bed sheet (or larger or smaller depending on space and need). Once the frame is created, you simply need to use a staple-gun to fasten the plain white bed-sheet upon the frame. Then, you simply place the frame inbetween the congregation and the artists. The artists (using regular tempera paint) then paint on the backside of the sheet and the colors bleed through the sheet. The most wondrous thing about this method is that the congregation does not see the artists because they are standing on the other side of the canvas. Therefore, the congregation only sees the image "emerge" as the artists paint throughout any one or all of the liturgical elements of the service (scripture reading, offertory, anthem, confession, etc.). This method of art is especially helpful for including children in worship!

Many thanks to Joseph Taber and Jacob Geerlings for helping me construct the one above. Also, thanks to Sally Ann Sisk and Rachel Hood for serving as the liturgical artists for the service in this the above art was created!

IMG_0062 1

The above art can be found at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Tucker, Georgia. To read more about the fascinating worship space of this congregation, see my post on it here. These are simple liturgical banners which can be made by the congregation and are simple (and yet quite intricate!) cutouts made with a stencil. This is yet another example of liturgical art that is affordable and, perhaps most important of all, can be made with the hands of the congregation! It is my hope that the use of affordable and "home-grown" liturgical art will make such art less of an expense to be paid and more a gift to be offered as a community to our God!


Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.