Puppets take to the pulpit at Coon Rapids United Methodist Church

Dylan Michienzi and Jimmy Kinzer, both of St. James, Minn., pose with a pair of puppets before partaking of the creative ministry competition in Coon Rapids United Methodist Church sanctuary. Photo by Sue Austreng

Dylan Michienzi and Jimmy Kinzer, both of St. James, Minn., pose with a pair of puppets before partaking of the creative ministry competition in Coon Rapids United Methodist Church sanctuary. Photo by Sue Austreng

Determined to share the gospel message with people of all persuasions, folks at Coon Rapids United Methodist Church (CRUMC) occasionally persuade puppets to do the preaching.

For more than two decades, CRUMC has been practicing puppet ministry in its sanctuary, and on March 9 and 10 the church opened its doors and welcomed some 300 prospective puppeteers when it hosted the 2012 Puppet Festival.

They came from all over Wisconsin and Illinois, Iowa and of course Minnesota to take in the sights and sounds of the Puppet Fest, presented by Ministry Resources International, based in Colorado.

“I’m so happy so many came out to learn creative ways to reach people – especially children,” said Bev Pitoscia-Lloyd, a member of CRUMC’s puppet team who helped organized the festival.

Packing puppets and props, presenters gave workshops on advanced puppetry, ventriloquism, clowning, miming and improvisation.

“This kind of ministry is very involved, very hands-on. It’s a way of ministering using the energies and talents you have – and it blesses people in the audience as well as the puppeteers,” said Dale VonSeggen, owner of Ministry Resources International, who traveled to Coon Rapids for the Puppet Fest.

In addition to learning techniques, Puppet Fest-goers were able to witness one another’s expertise, share tips of the trade and learn more about preaching from the pulpit with puppets.

VonSeggen and his Ministry Resources International team have packed up their puppets and traveled the world over, providing ministry resources and training to Christian children’s workers around the globe.

“This guy’s been given a vision by God and has changed the way ministry is done all over the world,” said Randy Christensen of Willmar, a professional clown who presented workshops on the art of mime during the March 9 and 10 Puppet Fest.

In addition to workshops, participants in the annual Puppet Fest were able to compete with song and dance, improv and illusion.

“There are just so many ways to spread the word. This is so much fun, so much color and creativity. I really know this is such a blessing in so many ways,” said Margo Tyson, puppet director at CRUMC.

To learn more about Ministry Resources International, visit www.2reachkids.org or www.creativemin.com.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com


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