GUILFORD – How about a tactile Sunday church service? One involving crafts, bible stories and the eucharist.
And, in the summer it’s moved from the church pulpit to a pavilion on the beach. Plus it’s open to all faiths.
This non-traditional service happens on the second Sunday of the month. Sponsored by Christ Episcopal Church, "the service is designed to comfort and offer connection to those on the autism spectrum and others sensitive to sensory overload or with special needs."
The next Christ Episcopal Church’s Rhythms of Grace service will be held Sunday, Aug. 11, 5 p.m. at Jacobs Beach, 140 Seaside Avenue, Guilford, under the pavilion (weather permitting), followed by monthly services the second Sunday of each month at 4 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 11 Park St., Guilford (meet in the Parish Hall next to the church). For more information, contact Donna LaFata firstname.lastname@example.org.
The service begins with a gathering (a time for all to come together, followed by storytelling (presenting a Bible story with extra aids such as a Jesus doll, pictures, stuffed animals and other visual aids so participants have a hands-on experience with the story), then “exploring activities” — three or four hands-on, tactile and therapeutic arts and craft projects that support the story.
Following that, there’s “regathering” using a familiar game or activity to bring the focus to the Eucharist portion of the service with communion (all religions welcome). The service ends with a spoken and hand-motion rendering of The Lord’s Prayer and the song “Jesus Loves Me.”
The activities for arts and craft really pay special attention to sensory, hands-on activities, like finding items in a bin full of rice, using a water table, making and frosting cookies, and doing collages, according to a press release.
The program is specially designed with the intent of making slow transitions from the greeting, to the Bible story and activities, after which participants slowly come back to the actual Eucharist, where children are able to participate if they want to, or not participate if they don’t want to. They can stand aside from it or come have a blessing from the rector.