Ministry Matters recently published this very good article on art as ministry in the church.
Ministry and Art
Art as Ministry
“Art as ministry is about looking at things more deeply,” explains Ellen Miller, a working artist and co-facilitator of the Visual Arts Ministry (VAM) of Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The Ben Hill congregation had been doing ministry in art for over 12 years and has had a formal arts ministry for three years. Ben Hill is an example of a congregation that values artists who contribute their gifts to help people in the church and in the wider community relate to God and to social concerns. The idea of art as ministry may be foreign to many congregations. How do the artists’ gifts function to form us in faith or to help us bring wholeness to the world?
In an interview, Miller says, “God is the original artist and has given us gifts of creativity. It is the responsibility of artists to tell the good news with their art.” We, made in the image of God the Creator, can be artists, using our creativity to serve God by working toward shalom (peace, harmony, wholeness) in the world.
“One of the scriptural foundations for our art ministry is Exodus 31:1-6, in which God gives the gift of craftsmanship for the building of the tent of meeting and the ark of the covenant,” says Miller. She explains that God gave Bezalel and Oholiab artistic gifts to work in gold, silver, and bronze and to carve wood and stone for the tent of meeting and its furnishings. Their work was for the glory of God and needed to be done by skilled craftsmen. Their work was ministry.
The Contributions of Artists
Through an endowment for an art ministry, Blacksburg (Virginia) Presbyterian Church invited Catherine Kapikian, artist-in-residence at Wesley Theological Seminary, to visit as an art consultant. Martha Dillard, an artist who chairs the congregation’s art committee, says that Kapikian “walked around with us and ‘read’ our church—how it felt, what it expressed to people when they arrived. Consulting with her helped the committee see visual aspects of the church building through new eyes.” The consultation helped enrich an art ministry that now has three components: