Worship Centers

A Constant Reminder

Linda Mellor and Stephanie Parsons
January 2024

Ever notice the sunflower and olive wood bowl that are always present in our worship centers?   They are constant reminders of our connection to the world.  Specifically, the sunflower represents the continuing war in Ukraine, and the olive wood bowl symbolizes the Israeli- Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

A Visual Sermon

Linda Mellor and Stephanie Parsons
January 2023

Each person connects with the word of God in their own way.  For many, listening to the Sunday morning sermon, singing hymns, or sharing in the liturgy is the most meaningful way to worship.  For others, these oratory ways may not best fit their style of understanding or communication. One way we have chosen to impact people is through the creation of worship centers that provide a visual focus and convey a theological message.  We call these our “visual sermons”.

Over the past 10 years, Linda Mellor and Stephanie Parsons, with the help of many others, have been designing and building these physical messages for our church, our New York Annual Conference sessions, and for our international 2019 United Methodist Special General Conference Session. 

Ordinary Time

During Ordinary Time, the worship center may be as simple as a bible, a cross, and a candle.  This can become a point of focus to meditate on your current faith, your relationship with God, the “light” in your life.

All Saints Sunday, October 30, 2022

Some Sundays, we may create a special worship center to reflect the importance of that day.  (All Saints Sunday, October 30, 2022)

Larger projects will span an entire liturgical season.  (Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2022)

Advent, Christmas, Epiphany 2022

These larger projects can take days or weeks to design and construct.  We will typically start in our Worship Team meetings, discussing the lectionary scriptures for the season, possible theological themes, specific potential sermon and liturgical messages for each week.  After the meetings, we brainstorm ideas, we sit with God, we dream big.  A word here will spark an inspiration there.  We prototype a concept to see if we can actually make something work:  “That’s not what I envisioned, but I love where it’s going.  What if we try this…”.  We try to be open to nudgings and random thoughts, willing to adjust and change, or to give up and try something different when it’s just not working out.  And once we have ideas and designs, creation can take many hours of detailed, sometimes repetitive or tedious work that becomes deep meditative time and space with God.  (Some of you may remember all those hours we spent quilling paper for NYAC 2018).

New York Annual Conference, June 2018

More than creating something “pretty” to decorate our church, our intent is to tell a story and convey a message.  When a worship center progresses over many weeks, we hope that there is not only a specific message for each Sunday, but also a larger thematic sermon, reflecting a journey or transformation through that season.

We are often asked “What does this mean?” and we are hesitant to provide our own personal thoughts.  We want God to speak to you with whatever it is that you need to see and “hear” for where you are now.  We want to allow the Spirit to work in your heart as you reflect on your own personal journey and transformation, open to where you are being led.  And for some of you, you may sit there and say “I don’t get it”, and that’s perfectly wonderful, too.  (We used to love when Carol Roper would see a worship center and not have any clue what we were trying to do, but simply appreciate that it was an important message and support us in our work).  And sometimes, you may need to sit in the chaos for a few weeks to have a message reveal itself, and then experience it changing into something more.

Lent, Easter, Pentecost 2022

Although this work can take much time and energy and effort, and on occasion there has even been a bit of blood, sweat, and tears, it is all a deep labor of love.  Love for God, and love for you, our dear Church Family.