Worship takes many forms so why not express it on a canvas? Creative freedom has been proven to make people more excited about worshipping, and the 212th Combat Hospital Unit Ministry Team (UMT) in Kaiserslautern Germany put this into action. During the holidays they allowed children's creativity to flow in the "Worship Thru Art" program. The program is funded by the "Worship Thru Art" grant, which is provided by the Office of the Chief of Army Chaplains.
The "Worship Thru Art" is a faith based program designed to teach Biblical truths to children using art as a form of worship. The 212th Combat Support Hospital UMT took this unique ministry to several Chapels. This high-speed team led by CH (CPT) David Redden included SGT Terrance Aursby and our resident artist SGT Kevin Richmond.
The Christmas project included singing carols, sharing the story of Jesus' birth through impressionistic art and then teaching the children how to paint a scene from that story in the impressionistic art form.
"Worship comes in a lot of forms -- singing, drama, instrumental music, poetry, crafting, and art on canvas," Redden said. "When you study Rembrandt's 'The Return of the Prodigal Son', the art provides a timeless visual imprint of Christ's story about the fallen state of mankind and the redemption of our Savior. The art captivates the student while the Biblical truths are expressed and explored. Do you know another medium that does this?"
Creativity is often the catalyst for engagement and inspiration.
"Creative learning engages the right side of the brain and gives the emotions an avenue to flow," Redden explained. "Anything that is creative and includes manipulation demands your left brain (thinking) to engage the right brain (emotions). The project forces your attention away from your workday pressures and helps you express yourself emotionally. It's so simple a kid can do it."
Not only did the 212th CSH Unit Ministry Team aim for the kids to have fun, this was definitely a learning environment.
"There are so many opportunities to teach," Redden said. "We all get a kick out of the old Bob Ross quote, 'There are no mistakes in life, just happy accidents.' It is an exciting way to explore and this medium provides a gracious learning curve for the kids! We learn to depend on each other, that everyone can express themselves differently and be accepted, and ultimately life can be how you paint it. If you don't like how this painting turned out, we can simply work on another one and grow in our talents and abilities."
"We have had six events so far," Redden said. "The biggest event was a five-by-five-foot painting that children did by completing four-by-four-inch squares. We are planning an unveiling soon. Even though the artwork was clearly done by children, it looks great. You can clearly see one Soldier caring for a wounded Soldier on a battlefield. The top banner reads '212th CSH,' which is the Combat Surgical Hospital, and the lower banner reads 'Care for the Wounded', which is a part of the core competencies of the Chaplain Corps." "It was the perfect combination of the Care form the Chaplain Corps and the Care from the 212th CSH." The children were able to discuss the role their parents played in the Army as well as responsibility for providing care that everyone shares. Redden stated "I am especially proud of how our leadership has gotten behind this project to make it work. COL Almquist, the 212th CSH Commander and CH (COL) Hammond, the 21st TSC Command Chaplain, absolutely opened the doors for this unique ministry to Soldier and Family.