by Rosemary Shumski
This year’s Creative Arts Festival theme is “The End of History…The Last Judgment.” The Scripture quotation that accompanies the theme is “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
Because this is a very tangible theme, there are many ways in which students can express themselves in art, photography, creative writing, and poetry. The most natural way to inspire creative expression relating to this theme would be to get the students involved in service projects in your parish or community. Suggestions for service projects can be found on the Creative Festivals webpage. Another way to inspire students is to use the theme throughout the church school year. Use the logo and symbols on room signs, letterhead and bulletin board displays. The Department of Christian Education also has posters available for downloading that can be displayed in classrooms.
Prior to having the students create their entries, the theme should be discussed in depth. Lesson plans are provided for various grade levels on the Creative Festivals webpage. After the lesson is taught, it’s usually helpful to have a brainstorming session in which the students explore various ways they might interpret the theme.
There are several different methods for implementing the Creative Festivals. One method is to use the normally scheduled Sunday Church School class time for a few weeks. If creating art entries, it’s most helpful to have someone who is artistic working with the students. Try to find an individual in your congregation who has an art background or someone who enjoys doing crafts to introduce a particular medium to the students such as charcoal, watercolor, pastels, etc. Purchase the proper supplies and have all of the students create their entries in that medium. Another method is to have separate stations- one for art, photography, creative writing and poetry. Use volunteers or Church School teachers to man the stations and work with the students. Again, it’s helpful to have people who have some knowledge or interest in these areas. They need not be professionals, but there may be someone who enjoys taking photos, for example, who can work with the students entering the Photography Festival. Either of the approaches mentioned above can also be accomplished during a Saturday workshop if you would prefer not to use regular class time.
The last method, which usually works only for the most disciplined students, is to have them create their entries at home. In this case, it’s helpful if the parents can provide some guidance and assistance. This method might be most successful with home-schooled students or those whose parents are interested in the arts.
The Department of Christian Education has provided a wide variety of resources to inspire creativity, including a theme song written by Fr. James and Kh. Gigi Shadid. Please explore the wealth of ideas listed on our webpage: www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf . Contact the Department of Christian Education with any questions or suggestions you have at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Participation in the Creative Arts Festival is a wonderful opportunity for both teachers and students to learn more about our faith. We have so many talented students in our Archdiocese. Let’s endeavor to help them be creative for Christ and glorify Him with their talents!
Rosemary Shumski is the Administrative Assistant of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education.