A Visual Pentecost

For Pentecost 2012 at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia, we decided to visually depict the fire of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. We were blessed by the results!

First, using white copier paper from the recycle bin, the worship committee folded 150 paper cranes (but called them “doves” since they were for Pentecost). With a small hole punch we punched a hole near the top of each dove’s back.

On Sunday morning, we inflated 125 red balloons with helium (if you like, add yellow and orange balloons into the mix). We tied the balloons closed with balloon clips rather than knots (you’ll see later why this is important), then tied a long string to each. The strings were of slightly varying lengths. We then attached the strings to the pews with painter’s tape, leaving a 12-inch (4 cm) tail of string hanging below the tape. (Strings must be long enough so that the balloons don’t obstruct people’s view from the pews.)

When the congregation was invited to come forward for communion by intinction, they were instructed to pick up a dove and take it back to the pew with them, write a prayer on the dove, then tie it to the tail string of any balloon (before removing the tape.) When they were

finished tying, they were to release the balloon.

Somewhat weighted down by the doves, the balloons rose very slowly straight up to the ceiling, then moved along the ceiling up to the apex. Eventually, all the balloons were lined up along the apex of the ceiling, and the doves were hanging down on the various lengths of string.

Since we had used balloon clips rather than knots, within two hours of the service the balloons had lost enough helium to allow them to sink back down to the floor. We were able to reuse the doves and balloons.

Folding Origami Doves

Consider asking older children or teens to fold the origami cranes/doves a week or two before Pentecost—they’ll love seeing their handiwork used in worship!

Instructions for folding origami cranes are available on the Internet or in origami books from your local library. If you find that folding the traditional origami cranes is tricky for beginners, printable instructions for an easier version of an origami dove are available at tinyurl.com/RWorigamidove.


Amy Wallace Parker serves the congregation as educator/pastoral assistant, and is in the art and theology track of the doctor of ministry program at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Reformed Worship 115 © March 2015, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.