A couple from England has turned to artwork and an after-school club to capture the imagination and interest of children in the San Lorenzo Valley.
Malcolm Mackinnon, the associate pastor at First Baptist Church of San Lorenzo Valley, and his wife, Donna Mackinnon, have launched a free after-school club for children in kindergarten through fifth grade that integrates art with Biblical teaching.
The club meets from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays at San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School.
Malcolm Mackinnon, a soft-spoken preacher with an English accent, found artwork to be an effective teaching tool while at Bible college in the UK in the 1990s.
The concept was introduced to him as he helped lead chapel services.
“The organizer wanted three paintings going at the same time (during chapel),” he said. “She asked if I would do one of them.”
While creating those works of art, he noticed something.
“The effect of this thing was so powerful. People were moved and emotionally involved,” he said. “There was something to this.”
A short while later, Malcolm Mackinnon used a similar technique while talking to a group of bored, yawning children.
“The kids came closer, and they were paying attention,” he said.
But a drawing or painting is not the only thing that keeps the children’s attention now. Malcolm gives a children’s message each week at SLV Baptist and always has a twist or turn in the artwork and story.
For example, he has one painting of two homes — one looks shabby with a small yard, and the other appears to be a well-kept mansion. After asking the children which place they would rather live in — they usually answer the mansion, he said — he unfolds the bottom portion of the picture, showing a cliff’s edge underneath the mansion, held up by several small wooden posts, while the shabby home has a beautiful lawn.
The photo illustrates the Biblical story Jesus tells about building ones’s house, and life, on solid ground rather than sand.
“I try to be creative,” Malcolm Mackinnon said. “I try to think about interesting Bible stories, and I think of the final image — what I want to get across, and then ways to disguise the picture.”
Malcolm Mackinnon found that he loved talking to children, and he eventually worked in 13 schools in England giving talks with his artwork. He met his wife Donna at one of the schools where she was teaching.
The Mackinnons will now share their talks during the free after-school club in Room 15 at San Lorenzo Elementary, 7155 Highway 9, in Felton. Called the Good News Club, the Tuesday afternoon group for kindergartners through fifth-graders is open to children from all around the San Lorenzo Valley. They will play games, participate in activities and hear Malcolm Mackinnon’s stories.
The Mackinnons also host a youth group from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the church, 7301 Highway 9, in Felton.
To register for the club, families can visit the San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School office, 7155 Highway 9, in Felton; call the Mackinnon residence, 335-2657; or stop by the club.
To see Malcolm Mackinnon in action, go to www.youtube.com and search for “Malcolm Mackinnon children’s talk.”