First Church in Windsor

Windsor, Connecticut
2020

Project Director: Nicole Grant Yonkman

To use liturgical art and creative rituals to create inclusive worship that welcomes worshipers of all ages, abilities and cultures.

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

First Church in Windsor, CT sought to use visual art in worship to expand our understanding of God and reach new people.  We had begun to use use screens in worship pre-pandemic, but quickly added more robust tech capabilities for livestream with multiple cameras, microphones, and video switcher software.  Our goals have been accomplished through livestream worship and the creation of original video content, including compiling and editing content sent from home worshipers.

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

1. How does visual art impact and change our worship--Three-dimensional art vs. two-dimensional art?

2. How do we deploy our livestream worship to not just create viewers, but disciples and members of our community?

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

Since our project has become intertwined with pandemic worship through livestream, it is impossible to disentangle the two.  Visual art in worship is no longer a supplement to worship, it is an integral part of the way we do worship.  We have resisted using the video screens simply as a tool for transmitting information, but as an artistic medium that always points us toward God.  We have found that we can change, and change quickly, to respond to the needs of the community.  We feel empowered.

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

Since we submitted our grant proposal pre-pandemic, we planned to continue to use our 3-dimensional worship space as our artist palette, bringing the worshipers literally into the art.  However, as the pandemic effectively closed down in-person worship for the year, we had to pivot 180 degrees and use 2-dimensionall video instead.  We wanted to have these profound communal in-person experiences, but found that this was not possible.  We learned how to quickly re-adjust again and again.

What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

I am so grateful that we were able to get an extension on our grant funds due to the pandemic.  While we have tried to readjust to our new reality, we simply could not spend our funds completely for virtual programs.  Having been grant project director before, I did really miss the in-person symposium; the virtual version did deliver the same impact.