Illustrating gospel stories, principles new picture kit provides visual aids for Church libraries and families

About a month ago, Jean-Marc Gilbert, president of the Quebec District, received the Church's Gospel Art Picture Kit. The next Sunday, he used some of the kit's 104 8 1/2-by-11 color illustrations to teach a Sunday School class.

He and many of the 58 members of his mainly French-speaking branch in Alma, Quebec, were so impressed that since then not only have they been using the kit at Church meetings, but in missionary work as well.In expressing his enthusiasm for using the pictures to illustrate gospel principles or stories, he said, "A picture is the same value as 1,000 words."

"I find the kit is good because it's easy to use the pictures. The kit is portable," Pres. Gilbert told the Church News during a telephone interview. "It's easy to teach with the kit. For example, if you teach from the Book of Mormon, you can find related pictures. You have many pictures, and the quality is good."

The experience of the Alma Branch reflects many of the benefits of the Gospel Art Picture Kit, which contains illustrations primarily depicting scriptural stories and events from the Old Testament, New Testament, the Book of Mormon and Church history. Also included are pictures of Church presidents and temples. All the illustrations are the same as the standard-size pictures available in meetinghouse libraries today, but in the smaller format.

On the back of each illustration is an explanation of the picture or a summary of the scriptural event. The kit is contained in a blue plastic case or is shrink-wrapped and comes with divider tabs.

Wayne B. Lynn, manager of planning and development in the Church's Curriculum Department, said that the English version of the kit became available last fall and that response has been "very positive." Nearly 44,000 kits with English-language summaries have gone out to branches throughout the world or have been sold at distribution centers. And nearly 6,800 in nine other language versions have gone out or been sold.

So far, 20 language versions, including English, have been made available, and 18 more are in process.

Brother Lynn said the kit was "developed primarily for areas of the Church where people have virtually no meetinghouse library. This is a beginning for them. Many branches have rented facilities, so this constitutes nearly their entire library."

The kit is a "beginning," he explained, in that it can be expanded. Included in the kit are instructions on how members can cut similar size pictures from Church and other publications, mount them and add them to the existing kit.

Brother Lynn counseled kit users to "use their imagination in making this serve them them best, but keep it simple. As people get new pictures, all they need to do is think of the main category, and it's easy to file.

"Be selective," he continued. "Don't put something in the file you can't use."

Although the kit was created for developing branches, Brother Lynn encouraged larger branches and wards and families to make use of the kit - and to expand it as well.

"The main purpose of the kit is to enhance understanding and perception of the gospel," he explained. "Gospel learning can be enhanced and teaching can be improved when teachers are assisted with visual aids."

Brother Lynn suggested that meetinghouse libraries have at least two kits. "If lessons are seasonal, such as at Christmas or Easter, everyone will be asking for those pictures at the same time."

He added that the kit benefits any Church situation because not only is it portable, but also individual pictures are easily located. "For example, with the Old Testament, pictures begin with the creation and go through the garden scenes. Even if you're not familiar with the numbering sequence of the pictures, you can still find what you want because they are filed sequentially according to the chronology of scripture events.

"And they lend themselves to wider class participation," he continued. "The pictures are small enough to handle. For example, during Easter, when I taught my Sunday School class of 12- and 13-year-olds, I had a series of pictures depicting the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

"I handed the pictures out to the students. Using the summarized scripture account on the back of the pictures, each of the students reported to the class what an illustration described. So we had a great overview of the Savior's resurrection without a lot of teacher involvement."

Brother Lynn encouraged meetinghouse librarians to allow families to check out the kit when needed. "We want the meetinghouse library to be a resource for teaching. And teaching in the family is the first priority in all gospel teaching," he said.

"There are so many ways families can use the kit. They can use it at any age level. They can make guessing games of what the scenes are depicting. They can ask where an event appears in the scriptures, what the artist is trying to teach and how to apply what is being taught.

"You can hand children a group of pictures, and you can ask them to put the pictures in sequence. Thus, they learn the story and how the scenes are linked together."

He added: "Parents can also get a little more confidence in teaching from the scriptures by using the information on the back of the pictures. This can lead them into a more in-depth study of the scriptures."

Brother Lynn said many branches and wards throughout the Church are discovering the benefits of the Gospel Art Picture Kit, which is available at distribution centers for $12.75 with its plastic container, or for $9.50 shrink-wrapped.

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