Orange United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill recently assembled a worship arts group for the purpose of encouraging holistic, creative participation on the part of the congregation in crafting an artistic, theological worship space. Their focus is the 9:00 a.m. Pathways service, the contemporary service that is one of three Sunday morning worship gatherings. OUMC has already been intentional about seeking to integrate music and liturgy, searching for a mode of contemporary praise that is still definitively Methodist, and they are expanding their vision to imagine how the visual aspect of the space can contribute to that.
The Pathways service meets in the fellowship hall, and the latest contribution of the worship arts group has been a tree placed at the front of the space. This is the "worship focus tree," and attention has been drawn to the tree in the context of Jeremiah 17:7-8b, "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water... It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green." It is a real dogwood tree cut from the yard of a church member, with die-cut leaves attached to the limbs.
The plan is for the tree to change with the liturgical seasons, and along with it the worship focus. The worship arts group will continue to brainstorm and produce means of creating a worship space whose focus is reinforced visually in connection with the Scripture. What do you think of OUMC's worship focus tree?