July 23, 2020 | by JB Brayfindley,Mort The Snail
[NOTES: Mort is one of the featured characters in “Children’s’ Worship,” a recent successful online outreach to children in the CNUMC conference and beyond. The series was featured on the CNUMC Wednesday Webinar on July 22, 2020. Initiated by the Pentecost Circuit in the Los Rios District in May, the online worship is extending into the Fall as COVID-19 restrictions continue.
In “Singing with Mort,” a cornerstone skit included at the end of each worship experience, the snail puppet represents “every child” and that puppet perspective is highlighted in the following article.]
By Mort, The Snail
“Humans are TOO big. But kids are just the right size. Well, of course, that’s ME speaking, and I’m a snail. Maybe it seems different to you.
I CAN say that kids seem to really like someone like me. It might be because of my size or the deep brown color of my shell. I do have beady eyes. I like my eyes the best because I can see sooo much when I open them and stare at stuff.
Like yesterday afternoon, I watched a “web-i-nar.” All I saw was a bunch of faces in boxes talking on a computer. BORING. But, when a video popped up, I jumped up! It had pictures of Harry, the Rabbit (an animal like me), a dancing unicorn pastor (he was scary at first but then I laughed out loud) and Snappy (a crab, not like me) and at the end, I saw me! When I saw ME, I started dancing like the unicorn! I like unicorns now.”
[Guest panelist Rev. Motoe Yamada Foor, pastor of Sacramento Japanese UMC/The Garden Church and leader of the Pentecost Circuit, led the panel discussion on how the ministry came about. Rev. Dr. Fel Cao, director of Camping and Retreat Ministries, spoke about conference support of the online series and about a new CNUMC Children’s Task Force beginning at the conference level. Guest panelist and puppeteer, JB Brayfindley brought Mort to the webinar.]
“I danced around until my human, JB, set me down. She had to mute her microphone because I was making too much noise. But I really LIKED the video because my friends were in it and it had music and it made me laugh. I know some other kids who like it, too.
After the video, heads in boxes kept talking, “blah, blah, blah.” JB said they were explaining that a lot of people helped make the videos for kids, not just me. But that’s o.k., I think it is something called, “culll...aaaa…brrr…ationing.” It’s what humans do when they get together and work. Kids just play. I like playing.”
[Yamada Foor explained how churches collaborate to create the worship by sharing video clips that are edited into one 20-minute experience. Contributors take turns reading the scripture, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, giving short faith-based messages, singing and sharing greetings. Children see and hear a wide range of people sharing God’s love. And, children get to take turns, too—as well as puppets!]
“Then I saw another video of me! I told my human sidekick that he was singing about peas and even brought him a bag of peas. But it was not peas, it was “peace.” I try to learn new things. So, I was happy to sing and dance and learn about peace. I like dancing.”
[Brayfindley, Pentecost Circuit video editor, explained the “nuts and bolts” of how the ministry got off the ground and onto a YouTube site where area churches could access it weekly. Brayfindley explained the origins of the Mort series that had its inception simultaneously with the birth of the Children’s Worship. She noted that creativity begets creativity and went on to discuss the importance of using a test group of children to receive feedback.]
“Then, I saw a cool video with “The One and Only Kona,” a talking dog! He told me how to use a “cookie voice.” Do you know that you are not supposed to “bark” at people when you are upset? Yes, talk nicely--like when you are giving a cookie to a doggie. That’s what The One and Only Kona says to do. I do that. I have a very cute cookie voice. I like cookies.”
[The creator of Susan’s Holy Zoo, Susan Garrison, explained how her talking animals came to be featured in the online worship and how they have evolved into stand-alone videos available for churches to download. Garrison suggested churches assess the skills and interests of their congregation, taking risks in exploring ministry ideas. And, she encouraged churches to get involved in Children’s Worship by contributing videos and learning new skills through the collaboration.]
“That’s it. That’s all I saw. I like music. I like to dance! I like peas, too, and laughing. The end.”
[Want to get involved? Need to get involved? For more details, watch the webinar at https://www.cnumc.org/eventdetail/14128020
For links to view past and future Children’s Worship episodes https://childrenworship.shutterfly.com/ password - childrenworship
To view shareable public YouTube videos of Mort and Susan’s Holy Zoo on the Children’s Worship YouTube channel, CLICK HERE.
To contribute videos or donate funds to continue the project, REGISTER HERE] https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeD60nvhqKz60DtH47IEiBt_gExY73oKRPDb7a0TcnmwWCYdQ/viewform?usp=sf_link ]