Churches paint, hide rocks to share hope, faith
Lena Sumner, a fifth-grade student in Christy Yates' Park Avenue UMC Sunday school class, paints a scripture verse on a rock.
By Kara Witherow, Editor
A little acrylic paint and a few rocks are helping spread hope and love across South Georgia communities. From Bainbridge to Brunswick, individuals and groups are painting rocks and brightening people’s days, one rock at a time.
At Park Avenue United Methodist Church, Christy Yates’ fifth-grade Sunday school class is learning about the Bible through, of all things, rocks.
Inspired by popular local Facebook rock painting groups like Valdosta Rocks! and Hahira Rocks!, Yates thought rock painting would be a great activity for her students.
“Lots of my Sunday school kids were looking for rocks and finding rocks … so I thought it might be a fun way to connect with them,” she said.
Yates’ is leading her students through each book of the Bible this year and thought rock painting would be a creative way to review lessons, facilitate discussion, and help the class remember what they have learned.
“We are working through the books of the Bible and trying to hit the highlights of each book,” Yates said. “They each picked a different Bible verse and wrote that scripture reference on the rock.”
The students painted the rocks one Sunday morning, including “PAUMC Rocks!” on the back of each. Yates took the rocks home and sealed the paint, and the students hid them in and around the church and community the following week. It’s been a fun and educational activity for all of them, Yates said.
While painting the class talked about the various ways God used rocks in the Bible and their meanings.
“It helped them refresh their Bible skills and we also talked about the significance of the rocks,” Yates said. “We’ve had lots of meaty discussions.”
Patricia Cannon hopes that the rocks she paints will bring encouragement and hope to whoever finds them.
The wife of Rev. Joey Cannon, Sr., pastor of Palmyra Road United Methodist Church in Albany, Cannon was inspired to paint her own inspirational messages on rocks after finding a few near her home.
“I thought wow, this is a great opportunity to encourage people,” she said.
The second Sunday in August, she and a handful of others gathered after the church’s monthly covered-dish luncheon and painted inspiring words like “love,” “Jesus loves you,” “peace,” “hope,” grace,” and “joy” on each of 100 rocks that a generous church member donated. A label, affixed to the back of each rock, reads, “Jesus is Your Rock” and encourages those who find them to bring their rock to the church’s Sunday morning worship service.
While the group has enjoyed the fellowship that comes from painting, there’s a deeper purpose to their art.
“We are using this to reach out to discouraged people, to give them hope and to let them know that they are loved and that Jesus loves them and that Jesus is with them,” Cannon said. “We just hope that someone out, walking around, will find the rock and it will lift their spirits and hopefully bring them to salvation.”