SPOTLIGHT: Illuminated Faith

SPOTLIGHT: Illuminated Faith

The Covid Pandemic forced change on everyone. Both individuals and churches had to re-evaluate many aspects of life. At First Church in Windsor (CT), UCC, the pandemic also gave the congregation a chance to look within themselves and evaluate their own beliefs. Through a creative process called Illuminated Faith, they were able to share their reflections with the church and the community through visual arts.

An Image from FCW's Illuminated Faith series
photo by Laurel Pepin
The Illuminated Faith project originated with a grant from the Calvin Institute for Worship Renewal to do something in worship with liturgical or visual arts. While the FCW Creative Worship Team began brainstorming ideas, the pandemic hit, forcing the church to go online with worship. The 2-dimensional aspect of worship sparked the idea that Covid had made everyone more introspective.

 “We actually were having a lot of spiritual journeys from our own homes,” said Senior Pastor Rev. Nicole Grant Yonkman.

Rev. Grant Yonkman was familiar with a project by photographer Scott Indemar called “Revealed”. The concept created a visual representation of some reflection by an individual. She reached out to Indemar and asked him to visit the church and talk about his project. Shortly after, the church began to work on the Illuminated Faith project.

The project asked the congregation to write a 500-word essay on what they believed. Each participant then created a small box in which they could place some representation of the ideas in their essay. Many decorated the surface of the box. Later, each author recorded their essay in an audio recording.

The final step of the project was creating a video using photographs taken by FCW Creative Worship Team Co-Director Laurel Pepin. Pepin took the photographs, edited the images, and compiled them into videos with the audio recordings, creating a single video for each of the 28 participants.

In September, the church began sharing the individual videos during Sunday morning worship. They continue to share the videos each Sunday. On October 24, the church will hold an open house in which church and community members can come see a gallery of displays of each essay which now decorate a space in the church.

Rev. Grant Yonkman says the process helped members see how each person is creative in some way and recognize that God’s light shines in us all.

“When you talk about something that is so deeply personal, about what you believe and why you believe it, and what in your experience makes you believe it, it makes it very vulnerable," she said. "And somehow I think this idea of Illuminated Faith means it's like God's light is shining in these stories.”

Many of the Illuminated Faith videos can be seen on the FCW Facebook page.

Watch Laurie Bacha's Illuminated Faith story from the September 12 service:


You may reprint this story by including the following line in your article:  Reprinted with permission from Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ, Spotlight


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Drew Page

Drew Page is the Media and Data Manager for the Southern New England Conference, and a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer as a Dean at Silver...

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