Harvesting faith through the arts: dance, music, and photography

Sep 21, 2018 7:00:13 AM / by Christy Olson

Harvesting faith through the arts: photography, music, and dance | Sparkhouse BlogThere is nothing like the sweet taste, sharp smells, and beautiful sights of harvest time. Harvest is a time of gathering in the best fruits (and vegetables) of our labor – all blessings from God.

Why not make harvest time in your faith community a time of gathering in the best of dance, music, and photography?


Every faith has its own celebrations through dance. Whether it is liturgical, cultural, or ritual, dance is a wonderful way to harvest the faith of believers. Dance is communal and brings the whole body into faith.

Harvesting faith through the arts: photography, music, and dance | Sparkhouse Blog

Circle dances are my favorite communal faith activity. Almost any chant can be put into a four beat circle dance. Kids or adults with a few basic steps can create circle dances that are less performed than experienced. Yes, you all need to know which way you are circling or you bump into each other! Here are a few easy ideas to start:

Arms and hands: circle left or right with hands held, walk to the middle raising hands, and back out lowering them, and don’t forget to include claps.

Feet and legs: march or step left, right, forward, or backward; grapevine by stepping sideways with one foot and crossing the other over or behind, and kids’ favorite – jumps!


Music connects generations of God’s people. We sing every week in worship. We sing at camp. We sing in the car (if only off key)! Singing celebrates who we are. Harvest faith through singing and listening as a group around a campfire.

Campfires during harvest time bring all the senses to the forefront. Sometimes we make song sheets for campfires (although they can be impossible to read without a flashlight).

Let the leader (autoharp, guitar, fiddle, electric keyboard, or choir director with a pitch pipe) choose songs your faith community knows by heart. Invite participants to make the list of songs they know by memory. Put out a clipboard for a time and see what happens!

Some songs will be camp songs, but there will be others like Amazing Grace and happy birthday. Remember that in any month it is always someone’s birthday in the group – so this is a great classic! And, if some people have the song words memorized, there will always be singers.


Harvesting faith through the arts: photography, music, and dance | Sparkhouse Blog

Photography has changed significantly in the last ten years. Whether using a camera or cell phone to frequently take photos, few take the time to sort, edit, or print before they post on social media.

How can you bring this art back to life in your church? Ask local photographers to meet with family groups, teen groups, and elders of the church to talk about photography and practice taking images together.

Then spend harvest time lining the hallways with special photos, the fruit of their labors. Provide inexpensive cardboard picture mattes for framing and suggest the frames be colored or decorated to increase family participation. Ask contributors to create a label of their name and where the picture was taken.  A weekly or monthly theme would be fun such as harvest, old churches, or food. Have fun with this and harvest the art of photography.


Share the harvest of your faith as a community by sharing artistic gifts as photographers, singers, dancers, and leaders, or as listeners and viewers. Celebrate God’s blessings together!

Topics: Children Ministry

Christy Olson

Written by Christy Olson

Christy lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she and her husband have retired. But a writer never retires! She continues to freelance, and blogs for the UUA. Her ministry joys include 20 years at three congregations doing children's and family ministry, writing for four different denominations, doing workshops (see her Faith Gardener website), teaching at Luther Seminary, getting her M.A. in Theology, and consulting with churches about ministry challenges.


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