Monday, August 11, 2014

Prayers for peace and healing of the nations

Art, theology and reconciliation at Seattle University.

We taught a class at Seattle University; School of Theology and Ministry that worked with the power of art, community and imagination in social change and reconciliation. Our intensive week created a space for imagining and reimagining our own stories in community. Through art and dialogue we shared our individual creative energy from a place of wonder while creating the essential dynamic of community. Together we created a prayer canvas that drew us into a taizĂ© style worship service. The interfaith service was an invitation to share our humanity, prayers for peace and reconciliation. 

Prayers from Guatemala


We returned from Guatemala over the weekend, and wanted to share a brief email with you.  The Prayer Canvas was a tremendous experience, and a highlight for the children of a local village school who participated with us.  Our group brought a 6’ x 6’ canvas divided into small squares, as well as several tubes of paint, brushes, and pencils (that we left behind for the school).  
We were hosted by the Cloud Forest Conservation Centerlocated outside of Coban, Guatemala.  The local village had a 1-room school for about 30 students (9 preschoolers) and 1 teacher – from very poor families of Mayan descent who are farmers and laborers.  In total, there were 21 students from the village school, 4 adults (teacher and 3 fathers), our group of 11 travelers, and 5 from the host facility/school including their founders and staff.  It was a wonderful couple of hours as we prayed together, sang together, and shared our hopes and prayers through art.  It was so meaningful and amazingly quiet as we wrote and painted shoulder-to-shoulder.  
We wanted to thank you so much for sharing your idea with us, and allowing us to share ministry this way!
Intentionally, only about 1/3 of the canvas was painted.  The leaders at the CFC were so moved that they wanted to share it with other visiting groups.  They have a congregation visiting from South Carolina in July.  We left the entire canvas at their facility – where (once dry, paint doesn’t dry quickly in the rain forest!) a portion will be cut off for display in the village school as a reminder of our trip.  The remainder will be used at the CFC for other groups – and photos shared with Melissa and me (which we’ll continue to share with you).  
I’ve placed some photos in a shared Dropbox – you should have just received the link.
God’s blessings… and again our thanks to Chuck and Peg.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Prayers from Bethlehem, Palestine

photo © George Anderson Photography
DAR AL KALIMA COLLEGE, BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK, PALESTINE. We shared the canvas between members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Minneapolis) and art students from Dar Al Kalima College in Palestine. They brought beauty and expression as their visual prayers and laments came along side so many others praying for peace, reconciliation and healing of the nations. It was a gift from them to witness to their passion for art and to be part of our global prayer canvas. This canvas travels back to the United States and William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where we will be facilitating a series of workshops with opportunity to invite faculty and students to add their prayers.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Praying with color and symbol.

ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA. Nineteen people from the NW MN Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church planned to travel to India this past November to meet with their Sister Synod in Andhra Pradesh, India. The purpose of their meeting was to strengthen their ties and relationships. They visited churches, schools and hospitals to learn about India, their history, culture and religions. As they were planning ways to strengthen their relationships between the two synods and their common faith, the team thought about the power of sharing prayer and creating art. The World Canvas Project does both and decided to create a canvas. They worked on the World Canvas twice: the first time at a School for the Blind, where students were helped writing prayers and placing their thumbprints next to their written prayers. The second time was at the Youth Festival in Visakhapatnam, where the students and adults crowded around the canvas to share painted prayers. Video by Linnea Popke–Larson.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Prayers from Andhra Pradesh

photo © Linnea Papke–Larson
Pr. Linnea Papke-Larson
First Lutheran Church
Bemidji, MN

ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA. Nineteen people from the Northwest Minnesota Synod of the ELCA recently traveled to our companion synod, the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Andhra Pradesh, India. On November 2, 2012 we flew out of Fargo, North Dakota and many, many hours later landed in a place which felt at once foreign - in landscape and culture - and at the same time familiar - in the faces and greetings of our Indian friends who were awaiting our arrival and who had, the previous year, a similar experience “in our neck of the woods” in northwest Minnesota!

Prior to leaving Minnesota, we prepared a prayer canvas. People from congregations throughout our synod penciled their prayers onto the canvas and then covered them with the acrylic paint provided, in any kind of design desired. Block by block, our prayers were offered in a variety of words, contours, colors and hues, with plenty of blank space left open for the prayers of our companions on the other side of the world.

While in India, we traveled throughout Andhra Pradesh and visited many churches and ministries of the Lutheran church there - including schools for girls, colleges, the Bible women, an orphanage, a leprosy colony, a home for destitute women, a clinic, a school for the blind and their church youth festival! On several occasions we were able to share our prayer canvas and invite people to join their prayers with ours. At the blind school, we invited folks to offer their thumb print along with their prayers, and at the youth festival we were overwhelmed with the joyful responses of the youth and their leaders gathering around the canvas to share their hopes and dreams in Christ. Prayers written in both English and Telugu, they are covered in splashes of color and design that express our common faith.

This particular prayer canvas was designed so that we could cut it in half before we left - right down the middle, lengthwise, so that each half can be finished and hung as banners - one in our companion synod in India and one our Northwest Minnesota Synod, tangible reminders of our common relationship as we travel in our respective areas and tell the story of our partnership!


Monday, October 15, 2012

The color of prayer

photo © Genesis+Art Studio
HOLDEN VILLAGE, CHELAN, WASHINGTON, USA. It’s been almost two years since we began the World Canvas Project at Luther Seminary and have watched it grow beyond what we initially imagined. We have participated with communities around the globe and experienced groups beginning their own canvas to take it out into the world. We have witnessed the heart’s of many praying with color, shape and form to turn suffering into community, conflict into creative energy and for the strength to hold tension for the common good. This past summer, the World Canvas Project made its way up Lake Chelan to Holden Village. We were strangers to one another at the onset, but creating together we revealed what we have in common, generated new possibilities for growth in our minds and hearts. In every prayer lifted up, we wove threads of grace together to form a fabric of hope. With the mind, heart and hands we created something together that none of us could have created alone, lifting up prayers for the healing of the earth and for one another. We will return to this sacred place and to the friendships made. Until then we offer this prayer from the book, Earth Prayers:

We join with the earth and with each other.
To bring new life to the land
To restore the waters
To refresh the air

We join with the earth and with each other.

To celebrate the seas
To rejoice in the sunlight
To sing the song of the stars

We join with the earth and with each other.

To create the human community
To promote justice and peace
To remember our children

We join with the earth and with each other.

We join together as many and diverse expressions
    of one loving mystery: for the healing of the
    earth and the renewal of all life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One prayer among many

Reflection by Marissa Danney
Chaplain, Ghost Ranch

ABIQUIU, NEW MEXICO, USA. A prayer canvas was begun by youth at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
The youth participating in Youth Programming at Ghost Ranch began a prayer canvas as they dedicated an evening to prayer and creativity.
Ranging from age 5 to 19, the youth crouched on the floor, writing and painting. Most seemed to appreciate the privacy that painting over their prayer offered, while also joining their prayer among the many other prayers already represented.
Though this prayer canvas will not travel away from Ghost Ranch, it will be added to by the many youth who travel to Ghost Ranch each week and each year.