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Third Christian Reformed focuses ‘UpWords’ for Lent

This news article highlights the grant project "Vertical Habits" of Third Christian Reformed Church of Zeeland

The Holland Sentinel
March 18, 2006

Third Christian Reformed Church of Zeeland has begun a Worship Renewal project with a grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

In the fall of 2005, Third CRC, along with several other churches and denominations in the U.S. and Canada, was selected to participate as a pilot congregation in a project that will develop resources for worship, education, outreach and congregational life.

The project centers around a theme entitled, "Vertical Habits." The idea is that Christian Worship can be a place where God teaches people basic vocabulary for faith and for life. Because language shapes relationships with God, language also can shape and reshape relationships with one another. Third’s worship during the season of Lent will help worshippers find ways of connecting the words that they use with God and with one another.

Third Church has adapted the title of "Vertical Habits" and is choosing to call its version "UpWords." The words include: Help!; I’m listening; I love you; I’m sorry; Here I stand; Bless you; What can I do?; Why?; and Thank you.

The grant has tapped a number of gifted artists in the congregation and has enabled a number of new things to emerge in the congregation. Third has assembled a homemade, daily Lent devotional that has been written by members of the congregation.

Tim Klynstra, an artist within the congregation, has used his gifts to create a 15- foot sculpture that stands in the courtyard of the main entrance to the building. Those who view the sculpture cannot help but look "upwards" at it.

Other artists within the congregation have created two banners for the series. One 12-foot, multi-colored banner is in the shape of a cross and greets those who enter the building. Another banner in the sanctuary depicts people in various postures reaching out to one another and to God as they seek relationship.

Volunteers in the church have developed children’s bulletins as well as children’s worship and educational materials for this program. Teens are taking pictures in the church and the community of people putting the words into action. Each week, these pictures are posted on a bulletin board in the entryway.

Another artist in the congregation is taking photographs of the outdoor sculpture and matching these images with pictures of members of the congregation. A conscious effort is being made to link what happens in worship with what is happening outside of worship.

The UpWords series began March 5 and will run through April 16, which is Easter Sunday. Worship times are 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The church will culminate its Lenten series during Holy Week through worship at 7 p.m. on the evenings of Maundy Thursday (April 13) and Good Friday (April 14).

On Easter Sunday morning, Third will observe its annual Easter Vigil service at Zeeland Cemetery at 8 a.m. Worshippers then walk to the church for breakfast and then worship again in their sanctuary at 9:30 a.m.

For more information call (616) 772-6682.