Parables members sing, dance and act their spirit

Parables members sing, dance and act their spirit

The cast of Parables offers a unique worship experience incorporating skits, tap dancing and unconventional percussion instruments.  Photo by David Zwier.

The cast of Parables offers a unique worship experience incorporating skits, tap dancing and unconventional percussion instruments. Photo by David Zwier.

With diverse interests and artistic specialties, the Parables worship team comes together about once a week to share their many gifts but same spirit with congregations and other Christian functions in the area.

They recently held one such program for prospective students and local youth groups in Reith Recital Hall. After beginning the evening with an up-beat, foot-kicking African number, the 10-person group introduced their repertoire as stories from the Bible and from their own lives. “We encourage you to listen with an open heart so you, too, can find some truth in it,” said Aaron Kaufmann, a sophomore.

In their first skit, an elementary school teacher (Jay Mast, a sophomore) gave each of his students a cookie and told each one to take that cookie home and do something with it that would make the world a better place. One child shared the cookie with his classmates, one sold it to her grandmother and bought a pet gerbil for the class, one used it for an art project and one child just kept her cookie safe. The teacher affirmed all of these children for the different ways that they chose to use their individual gifts.

Just like the the children in this skit, the members of Parables have many different stories and artistic talents — singing, dancing, acting, storytelling — which they bring to the group in the hope that God will work through these skills to make the world a little better. “Any time you lump a whole bunch of arts together,” says Mast, “it’s powerful.”

The program continued with a song by Bobby McFerrin featuring a barrage of vocal percussion and nonsense sounds. Mid-way through the song, the group whipped out bright-colored plastic tubes and began waving them around and tapping them on the floor in a choreographed rhythm. During this number, Reuben Sancken, a junior, broke out into a tap dance.

Emily Bowman, a sophomore, and Molly Kellogg, a junior, both shared stories of how they have experienced God, and at one point in the program, several members of the group enacted the Biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. After several other songs and stories, the program ended with a song of blessing.

Like their audiences, the members of Parables come from different backgrounds and denominations, and so their program features a number of different beliefs and experiences. They hope that every person worshiping with them will be able to take away at least one inspiring morsel that they can connect to. “My purpose in this is to have people relate to something in our program,” says Mast. “When something is powerful — it affects you — it’s because you’re relating to it.”

For Mast, the theater in these weekly worship services has strengthened his faith. “When I perform, I need to believe in it,” he says. “If I’m telling you something, you’re not going to get it unless I believe it.”

Over fall break, the Parables group toured around Indiana and Illinois, visiting the home churches of three of its members. They have also done programs for Bethany Christian High School, alumni weekend and local churches, and they will continue to share their diverse array of talents with Christian communities into May of this coming year.

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Written by Sarah Rich

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