Church lawn adorned with "Pentecost Pinwheels" as pandemic calls for new traditions

One hundred and twenty pinwheels decorated the lawn of Grace Church in Newton for Pentecost this year, after the Rev. Regina Walton, the rector of Grace Church, and Rowan Larson, the minister for Christian formation, decided to begin a new tradition for Pentecost, as many of the usual ones couldn't happen this year due to COVID-19.

Larson discovered that their idea of "Pentecost Pinwheels" was already popular in many Roman Catholic churches, and after modifying a design they found online, made copies on card stock and distributed the pinwheel-making supplies to members of the congregation in a no-contact way through the "Better Together" neighborhood groups formed by the congregation back in March as a way to group parishioners by neighborhood to help meet local needs during the pandemic.

Pentecost pinwheels Courtesy photo "Pentecost pinwheels" decorate the lawn of Grace Church in Newton. 

After the completed pinwheels were collected, Larson cut out and assembled them, using short bamboo dowels, pushpins and a hammer, and put them on the lawn along with a sign reading, in part, "During these days when we can't see much of each other except on a screen, the members of Grace Church have created these pinwheels to remind us that we are still a gathered congregation even when we are apart. As the pinwheels spin when the wind rushes through them, we still have the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire and encourage us."

The congregation then offered a video for Pentecost featuring Larson flying a dove through the church grounds and over the pinwheels, set to a musical track composed by the music director of the church, Chris Hossfeld, who used many separate recordings to capture more than 30 participants in the "Grace Pentecost Choir" singing "Sweet, sweet spirit."

"I think that sense of community is important, and why the [Better Together] groups, and projects like our pinwheels, are important in these times," Larson said in an e-mail. "They’re a reminder that we’re still a church, the gathered body of Christ, and that even when we’re apart, we’re still connected with our community. The grace of God and of Grace Church still flows through us!"

--Bridget K. Wood