City Chapel, 2020

Grand Rapids, Michigan

To provide space and practices for congregants and visual artists to deepen their understanding and engagement of lament.

 Provide a brief summary of the purpose and goal of your grant.

We have hoped to learn more about the practice of lament through the lens of art and creativity. In doing this, we have come to understand that lament is an embodied experience. Lament is not just a short ritual to be experienced on a Sunday morning, it is a long groaning that becomes a part of who we are. We have all experienced this groaning over the past year, and we continue to pray that the fruit of this project will help us to develop ways to allow art to lead us into this lament.

What are two questions that have generated reflection on worship and helped shape your project?

1. A question that has guided us throughout this entire project has been: How can art invite us into a better understanding of lament? Of God? Of humanity?

2. We have also been intentional about learning from the way people around us lament, asking: What can the culture that surrounds us teach us about lament?

What impact has your project had on the worship life and habits of the congregation? 

The most immediate impact has been a focus on learning from others. To do this we have provided space for learning and discussion via book clubs. These clubs, mostly centered on discussing racial justice, have supplemented our learning on lament greatly while also allowing for our congregation to join in on the discussion.

Additionally, as we have grown in our understanding of laments' role within liturgical contexts, we have been able to incorporate lament more consistently in our gatherings.

What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

Midway through the year, many of us began experiencing fatigue related to our focus on lament. This provided the opportunity to step back and consider what it means to sit with and carry lament for long seasons of life. There were also many outside fatigues that coincided with this timeline (pandemic, election season, etc). The challenge of covid goes without saying, but this project did give us some language and perspective that became helpful as we navigated the past year in ministry.

What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

Don't get discouraged when things do not go as planned. This was helpful to remember, especially this past year.