Jacob Curtis, the congregation's co-pastor, explains that this practice of hands-on interpretation got its start during the early months of the pandemic, when church services were held on Zoom. "We realized that when everyone was looking at a screen, it made sense to use Lego to illustrate our children's stories. We could build scenes, take pictures of them, and then share them on Zoom as we talked," says Jacob.
At first, Jacob built the scenes himself, but as health restrictions eased up and the practice continued, he invited other congregation members to represent the Scriptures through Lego. Children and adults alike got involved, showing their interpretation of Bible passages.
"I'd say using Lego is, most of all, fun," Jacob shares. "It gets people reading and interacting with Scriptures who might not otherwise do so. They can be creative and playful, and they can interpret Scripture outside the box they normally put it in. It's also easy to work as a team because I can assign different people to build different parts of a scene. And the congregation loves seeing what we create. Since COVID, we've continued using Legos from time to time, putting whatever we've built on the worship table, and showing pictures of it on our projector screen."
As congregations continue to strive for greater inclusion of people with disabilities, Ambler Mennonite's practice of using Lego as a tool for children's stories, sermon illustrations, and scripture interpretation is an example of creative thinking that can invite people with intellectual disabilities and us all to engage the playful and imaginative parts of our brains in ways that invites us into a deeper understanding of their faith and community.
Emily Hunsberger is the communications director for Anabaptist Disabilities Network. With a bachelor's degree in biblical and theological studies from Bluffton University, Emily developed an enthusiasm for creating healthy communities in college, and she remains convinced that communities are healthiest when everyone is welcomed and embraced as they are. Emily believes that members of the community function best when needs are met, and she is passionate about breaking down the barriers that prevent true community from forming.