Grace Baptist Church

Richmond, Virginia
2020

Project Director: Suzanne L. Vinson

To collaboratively create original liturgy, hymnody, and art for worship that facilitates connection with God in all of life. 

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

Our goal is to create soul shaping habits that sustain, transform, and allow us to live in ALL the other spaces of our lives differently. Creating together liturgy, hymnody, and art enlivened worship and allowed our community opportunities to care and share with one another.  We wanted to encounter these spiritual gifts and skills within ourselves and within one another, and practice using words that meet our deep hunger for the right words, the true words, the words of grace and hope.

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

How do we shape our worship together when we are not gathered in our shared sacred space of the sanctuary?  What do we want to let go of our worshiping habits and what do we want to return with as we regather in our sanctuary for collective worship?  

What is our shared language for being church as we are the church during a global pandemic? 

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

Our folks have loved the increased use of art and visuals in online worship.  Many have appreciated "seeing the spaces of each other in our homes and yards" - seeing inside each other's lives.  The diversity of creative presentation and way in which we've produced our worship services allows "greater connection" and "feeling connected to our church" as we worship from our homes and spaces. The liturgy written is happening in real-time and has become a relevant space of growth that will continue. 

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

Our greatest challenge has been pacing our energy and project excitement, while also holding so many other initiatives and needs within congregational life in this very relevant time of adjustments. We engaged new platforms by using virtual experiences, which added an adaptive challenge. Balancing the wants and needs among our folks has been and remains a challenge, especially during our hybrid time of worship- now meeting both in person (as of May21) and creating a produced worship service. 

What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

Shifting our initial direction with the pandemic was easier than expected, as we anticipated flexibility in the implementation of our grant as we listened to our communities needs.  There were difficult moments, though, when it was unclear as to how or when we would gather in person.  Once those decisions were made, we were able to adapt accordingly.   

Flexibility is key.  Listening is essential.  Evaluating and reevaluating along the way is a must.