THE STONE CHURCH STORYTELLERS – SHERRY ROBINSON
Among her many talents, Sherry Robinson has a unique gift for telling scriptural stories from the Gospels. What makes this unique is the stories are told by heart without using the actual scriptures for reference. CONTINUE READING
Scripture by Heart
The Stone Storytellers meet monthly at Stone Church (usually on the third Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m.) to tell stories and make plans for telling the texts by heart in worship. Over 50 texts from the Revised Common Lectionary are learned and told by heart in worship every year.
On Palm Sunday evening 2014 the storytellers presented their annual Epic Telling, this one called Alive! The Four Easter Stories from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with two of the stories told by David Blanks, experienced as videos projected on the front wall during the performance. The Stone Storytellers also accepted invitations to perform the program in May at the Presbyterian Church in Whitesboro and Vernon, New York.
April 2013 saw the performance of The Exodus by the Stone Storytellers, a presentation of the first fifteen chapters of the story of Israel’s liberation from slavery and crossing of the Red Sea. Taking part in the telling were three newcomers to Stone’s storytelling ministry, David Blanks, Anne Dunn and guest teller from Zion Lutheran Church in New Hartford, Annie Wadsworth Grove.
In 2012 the Tellers’ partnering with others in the church and community to mount the second annual “Village Storytelling Festival” on the Village Green in Clinton in June. The inclement weather did not dampen the spirit of those who attended this full day of storytelling, music, food and crafts. Odds Bodkin and Tracy Radosevic were our featured performers.
2012 was the second year in a row for the festival and represented a name change from 2011’s Stone Soup Storytelling Festival that headlined Bil Lepp, five-time winner of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, and Dan LeMonnier, whose “banjotales” appealed to young and old alike.
In 2012 our Epic Telling was of the Gospel of Mark. And in 2011 it was a smorgasbord of stories called “In the Beginning, Toward the Middle, and All the Way to the End.”
The 2011 Epic Telling was a smorgasbord of stories from Genesis to Revelation called, “In the Beginning and All the Way to the End,” which was presented for large audience.
The tradition of the Epic Telling began when the Rev. Dennis Dewey began his ministry at Stone Church by telling the Gospel of Mark on the evening of his first Palm Sunday 2007 as Stone’s pastor. The next year he invited a dozen other tellers to join him, each telling one story, as together they presented “Stories from the Gospel of Luke.” In 2009 it was “Stories from the Gospel of Matthew,” which involved the Stone Storytellers’ taking a larger share of the stories. And in 2010 the Stone Storytellers told most of the stories from the Gospel of John, with the pastor taking the “leftovers”—a sign of the continued growth in skill and confidence on the part of the tellers!
In the summer of 2010 three Stone Storytellers (Donna Goodfriend, Dave Forbes and Scott Leonard) accompanied Dennis to the annual Festival Gathering of the Network of Biblical Storytellers in Black Mountain, North Carolina. There they attended lectures and workshops and took part in various storytelling opportunities. All four participated in the Seed Company’s “Blank Bible Project,” each of them videotaping two stories for the collection of 48 videos to be used internationally by this subgroup of the Wycliffe Bible translators.
Donna, Dave and Scott brought back some of what they learned and shared it with the congregation in worship in October as they took different approaches to telling one of the theme stories of the Festival Gathering, Luke’s parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge—Scott and Dave telling the story as “embedded reporting” and Donna doing a first person monologue as the widow.
The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Stone each year features many of the Stone Storytellers taking part in the group telling of Luke’s Christmas Story and other narration parts in the service.
Several of our tellers are available to take storytelling to other venues and to lead workshops. In addition, we have hosted several “Story Swaps” at the church, the Kirkland Art Center and the Kirkland Town Library—venues at which the people are encouraged to tell stories. We see this outreach to the community as part of our mission. Our mantra is the old Hassidic maxim, “God made humanity because God loves stories.”
The Stone Storytellers have begun rehearsing for this year’s “Epic Telling,” the title of which isAlive! The Four Gospels’ Easter Stories. This one-hour performance includes the Passion/Empty Tomb narratives from the Gospel of Mark, the Easter stories of Matthew (including the Great Commission) and Luke (including Emmaus Road) and the Passion/Resurrection stories from John (including Doubting Thomas and the Large Catch of Fish).
In addition to performing these stories at Stone Church the evening of Palm/Passion Sunday (April 13), the Stone Storytellers will present the program at Whitesboro Presbyterian Church in Whitesboro, New York the evening of Sunday, May 5 and at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church in Vernon, New York the evening of Sunday, May 18. We are also planning on giving performances at the Oneida County Jail after Easter.
Going forward, the Stone Storytellers continue to focus on the spiritual dimension of having the texts of scripture by heart, on improving our skills and on taking what we have to offer out to other churches. We are uniquely blessed by God to have these gifted and committed people who so eagerly share the joy and vitality of telling the sacred texts by heart, and we always welcome newcomers!
The Stone Storytellers include (in alphabetical order) Anne Dunn, Donna Goodfriend, Scott Leonard, Peter Massi, Sherry Robinson and Elizabeth Smith.
GOD MADE HUMANITY BECAUSE GOD LOVES STORIES.