Liturgical Environment Ministry: One Parish's Experiences (Part II: Share the Process)

April 15, 2008

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The Church looks beautiful! Can’t wait to see what’s next! Where do you get your ideas? The continuous compliments and questions generated by parishioners and visitors encouraged Holy Trinity (El Dorado Hills, California) Liturgical Environment Ministry to find ways to share the work of preparing the seasonal art and environment for worship.

Parish bulletin inserts were developed about the seasonal changes. Art speaks for itself, yet information about symbolism, liturgical history, and the connections between particular art expressions and the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist are an important part of faith formation.

The Marriage at CanaFor instance, the winter portion of Ordinary Time consists of Jesus beginning His public life, choosing His followers, and revealing Himself as the Anointed One. (see slides 1-4) The parish uses this season for special Masses for anointing the sick, commissioning new liturgical ministers, and highlighting our call to “Come Follow Me.” We try to reflect these themes in the worship environment and point out the connections in the weekly parish bulletin.

Come, Follow MeSpeakers from our ministry are scheduled as part of the parish adult faith formation series to give tours in the church explaining the rich symbolism of the architecture, permanent art, and seasonal art. Talks are periodically scheduled as part of the parish’s adult faith formation program and for some of the upper grade faith formation and school classrooms.

Some parishes and churches in the area made appointments to see our work and talk about our ministries, wanting ideas for their own work. We were asked to come and talk with their liturgical environment ministries, which led us to the idea of offering a Saturday workshop to share our experiences and inviting people from the area to attend.

Gathering 2003In February 2003, we invited all parishes in our diocese and some neighboring churches of other denominations to a Saturday morning workshop. We developed a slideshow of our banners and environmental settings and made an album of photographs. We invited the participants to bring an album and samples of their worship environment work to share.

Teams from sixteen parishes and three churches of other Christian denominations came to share. The response was far greater than we expected. We showed our slides and hung many of our banners. People asked questions, shared their experiences, and offered suggestions. All wanted a future gathering.

gathering 2004So, in January 2004, we held the 2nd Annual Liturgical Art Sharing Workshop. We developed a bibliography of resources as one of the requests from the previous year. We invited participation from any church team to share their work and experience, slides, and samples in short presentations. Four churches and two individual artists answered this call, each with 10 minute presentations. We showed our own slideshow again with emphasis on our newer work and talking points that were different than the previous year. We prayed together and encouraged one other.

People from eighteen churches attended, most for a second time but some from parishes outside the diocese. Some individual artists came. We had some small group sharing and generated ideas for a future gathering.

fabric collageIn January 2005, we held the 3rd Annual Liturgical Art Sharing Workshop. This time we structured it differently based on the suggestions from the previous year.

The day began with prayer and a short gathering talk on the meaning and spirit of the ministry. This was followed by three breakout sessions. We gathered again for evaluation and closing prayer.

We had seven breakout session topics, each given twice during the morning. Every person had a chance to choose the three sessions that best suited their needs. Six sessions were planned by members of Holy Trinity; one session was planned by our neighboring Episcopal Church team.

The sessions covered several areas of preparing seasonal worship environments:

» Liturgy, Spirituality, & Symbolism; Holy Trinity Slide Show
» Let’s Get Organized; Holy Trinity Liturgical Ministry Structure;
» Banner Construction; Design to Finish (see slides 7-10)
» Artistic Green Thumb, Floral Arranging and Plant Care for large spaces (see slides 11-13)
» Banner Art, Variety of Techniques (see slides 14-16)
» Seasonal Transitions in Banner Art (see slides 17-19)
» Symbolism, Color, & Design (see slides 20-21)

Net bursting with fishThe day was extremely successful. We shared much information, including numerous implementation tools. The challenge now is for liturgical environment teams to begin or expand their own work in their own churches.

It was agreed that we had saturated the area market of those really interested in doing this work in their own churches. We have decided to wait a few years before having another comprehensive workshop. We still go to parishes when requested and have a network of interested people online who share ideas. is now a new and wonderful resource for sharing. Thank you for the opportunity to participate on the Web site. If anyone is ever in the Sacramento area of California, join us for worship at Holy Trinity Church in El Dorado Hills. In the words of Marty Haugen’s song, “…All are Welcome in this place.”

Renee Healy is a member of the Liturgical Environment Ministry and former Parish Liturgical Coordinator at Holy Trinity Church in El Dorado Hills, California, U.S.A. She is also a retired teacher and an artist.

READ PART I of this 2-part article.

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