A Tribute to Chris Overvoorde (1934–2019)
Chris Stoffel Overvoorde was named an editorial consultant for Reformed Worship in its very first issue (RW 1, Fall 1986). His assignment was to encourage Reformed Worship in the thoughtful and creative use of visual arts in worship, a role he faithfully fulfilled for almost thirty years. The Reformed tradition has always excelled in the words of worship; indeed, our heritage is very word heavy. But Overvoorde’s enthusiasm for the visual arts helped adults, like children, to open their eyes as well as their ears when they come to worship. Reformed Worship began at a time when churches everywhere were ready to “come and see” as well as to listen and sing.
Overvoorde was a born teacher with a generous spirit. His first article, in RW 2, included several full-color photos, beginning a legacy of encouraging Reformed Worship readers to honor color and light, shapes and symbols in their worship spaces. RW 2 illustrates the transformation of the worship environment at his home church, Grace Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he designed and introduced a church symbol, liturgical colors, simple banners, and even sculpture. That article came at a time when many churches were ready to receive new teaching about the Christian year, and he was soon busy as a consultant for many churches that were ready to add color and symbols to their worship spaces.
Reformed Worship is grateful to Chris Stoffel Overvoorde for his legacy of helping many congregations encourage both young and old to worship with hearts and minds, eyes and ears.
Resources from Chris Overvoorde
Reformed Worship articles:
- “Color, Light, and Shape” (RW 2, 1986)
- “Does It Fit? Guidelines for Critiquing Worship Space” (RW 33, 1994)
- “From Mourning to Exultation: Seven Themes for Advent and Christmas with Art for Bulletin Covers” (with Peter C. Hogeterp, RW 17, 1990)
- “Not Just for Looks: Practical Suggestions for Choosing Appropriate Visuals for Worship” (RW 17, 1990)
- “Seeing with Your Mind’s Eye” (RW 100, 2011)
- Passing the Colors: Engaging Visual Culture in the 21st Century (Grand Rapids: Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002)
“WHAT DO THESE STONES MEAN?”
Stones are reminders for our families
of trips out west, of rivers and valleys,
of mountains and streams,
of God’s grandeur in little things.
A stone was a reminder for Jacob
after God gave him his dreams (Genesis 28)
Twelve stones were reminders for the Israelites
of God’s mighty deeds (Joshua 4)
Twelve stones to form an altar,
a covenant with the tribes;
the altar is a cross, the great atonement
the ultimate concern.
The resurrection and the light
from twelve a multitude of colors
and of races united in faith.
— Chris Stoffel Overvoorde