UUI Grant Program

Category:  Experimental Worship and Spiritual Practice

First Grant Recipient

Jesse Thurston

Brooklyn, New York

Grant Project:  Experimental Worship Program for Artists Collective

Grant Amount:  $200

Jesse's Report:

I'm pleased to share that we hosted our experimental worship gathering on Sunday, February 4. We held the event at the SKY TING Yoga Studio in New York's Chinatown. It lasted about three hours. 

Eleven people attended, from various artistic disciplines. The goal of the day was to tap into a more pure creative state, free from self-judgment, and supported by a community of other artists. I thought we were fairly successful in creating this experience! The event played out about as we had planned, designed as a sort of rapid-fire artistic cross-training. We moved quickly through six brief exercises, led by six participants: a dance routine, a paper craft/collage, a tutorial on how to creatively light a room using mirrors, a memory-based writing exercise, a guided doodling with pen and paper, and a limerick-writing session. 

After the six exercises were finished, I invited the participants to join in a short silent meditation. I offered three prompts: "Did you notice anything new in yourself at any point today? Did you notice any moments of discomfort? Is there anything you came in burdened by that you are only now remembering?" 

After the meditation, we left the yoga studio and went out for Chinese food. The meal was optional, but most people elected to join us. The meal was a valuable part of the day, because it allowed us time to reflect with each other in a more casual way ("a communion"). My co-organizer and I got good feedback and ideas on how to run the event differently should we choose to do it again.

I found the challenge of designing an event that I would personally find spiritually rejuvenating to be extremely educational (and difficult!). It was nerve-wracking to gather a group together, but once we were in the room and especially once other folks starting leading, I became more able to relax and participate fully. 

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