The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


April 9, 2014

The Potter's Hand: Local pottery group grows out of an old passion

For Jaina Anderson, working with clay is elemental.

“Of the four elements — earth, wind, fire and water — earth is the one that belongs to us,” Anderson said. 

The associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church refers to scripture to illustrate her words.

In the Bible, Gen. 2:7 says God formed Adam of the earth, In Gen. 3:19, God said, “You are dust and to dust you shall return” and in II Cor. 4:7, the scripture says we carry this treasure in clay jars.

“Scripture is like an echo chamber full of images that bring us back to earth,” Anderson said. “And for me, getting my hands in the clay is as good for my soul as planting tomatoes in the spring — but I do it all year-round. It’s Sabbath. Sabbath time for the soul.”

Anderson believes that always being busy, we sometimes overlook the fact that observing Sabbath is a command, not a request.

“I think that’s God way of looking out for us, and I’m grateful for it,” she said.

To share her love of pottery, Anderson created The Potter’s Hand, a local pottery group.

“The Potter’s Hand is a new venture that grows out of an old passion,” she said.

A few years ago, Anderson started working on pottery projects in a group setting. She had so many folks who wanted to get involved, the group decided to move the equipment into the basement kitchen of First Presbyterian Church. The location wasn’t being used and it allowed the group to be open to the community.

The Potter’s Hand works on a donation-only basis so all can participate regardless of their ability to pay.

“We also hope this can be a mission-oriented venture,” Anderson said.

The Potter’s Hand recently worked on their first big project. The group made 94 small pottery trays for the volunteers of Limestone County Churches Involved as a “thank you” gift for their hard work. The trays were presented at an LCCI volunteer luncheon at First Baptist Church last Thursday.

Anderson said LCCI is run completely by volunteers.

“And what a gift they are to our community,” she said, adding she believes it’s right to show them how much they are appreciated for what they do every day of the year. “This is one day we can do that.”

The Potter’s Hand is also working on a few pieces for Earth Day and Hospice of Limestone County but hope to add other mission-oriented projects throughout the year.

When it comes to The Potter’s Hand, Anderson said the hope is that anyone who comes through the door can be a part of this community.

“Everyone helps each other, and we teach each other as we go,” she said. “We quickly get to know each other on a first-name basis, and our main goal is to have a hospitable space where folks can just have a good time together. And if we make some great pots together too, all the better.”

Anderson said The Potter’s Hand only rule is that even if you come in to work on a mission project like the LCCI trays, the first bowl made is to be taken home.

“And we encourage folks to make things for themselves or their friends, and drop a little money in the donation box to cover the materials,” she said.

Anderson added that God forms us and reforms us all through our lives. “But it takes contact between the potter and clay,” she said. “It takes contact between the Creator and the creation.

“Taking time out for activities such as this is a way to remind ourselves of that connection in a new way — a way that we don’t always take time for. Any time that we take away from the busy-ness of life to slow down, to be creative, to be connected to each other, and to encourage each other is important. I call it VBS for adults.”

The Potter’s Hand meets from 3-5 p.m. Wednesdays in the sanctuary basement of First Presbyterian Church. Other times will be announced in May. The church also has dinner at 5:30 p.m. and Bible study for children, youth and adults from 6-7 p.m. through April.

“We continue that metaphor of being formed by the Creator onto another step by sharing a meal together after the class and sharing Bible study together as well,” Anderson said. “Food for the creative side of us, food for the body, then food for the soul!” 

To read more about The Potter’s Hand, see The News Courier’s spring edition of Faith and Family.

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