Arts Ministry Spotlight: Hope for Artists, Evanston, IL.

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Like many successful church-based arts ministries Hope for Artists, based out of the Evanston (Il.) Vineyard Church, has its roots in the work of pioneers who went before. In this case the pastor’s wife, Cindy Nicholson, and Dick Ryan, former director of InterVarsity arts ministry, laid the foundation through years of nurturing the artists at the church and providing occasional “Creative Night” events–times to create art during worship, let artists “show and tell”, and hear inspired teaching.

Then in 2009, arts team member Lynn Sylvester shared with Cindy about her passion to pray for artists and support them.  She told Cindy about her experiences performing music with her husband and how some of the difficulties they encountered in ministry could have been avoided if they had a community praying for and supporting them. Based on that idea, “Hope for Artists” began as an intercessory prayer group for artists.

Nathan Fivecoate and Linda Sylvester
Nathan Fivecoate (right) and Linda Sylvester
(far right) lead “Hope for Artists”

Many artists heard about the prayer group and started submitting prayer requests. There were only two or three people meeting to pray at the time, but many of the artists they prayed for began having increased success in their art and ministry. The group grew and became an official small group at the church, and it now includes 20 to 30 regular members. In addition to intercessory prayer, “Hope for Artists” now focuses on helping artists and art appreciators grow in their relationship with God, explore healing, and flourish in their creative gifts in community. They work with artists within the church and those they meet in the community.

Lyn Sylvester now co-leads the Hope for Artists group with Nathan Fivecoate, one of the music directors at the church, and they have a good time doing it. They’ve consistently seen the effects of the Holy Spirit’s presence and the joy found in community.

“Hope for Artists” group members worship together, while some create art.

The group has often explored how God can bring healing through their creative gifts.  In one model the leaders will invite two people to share their artwork and the story behind it for approximately ten minutes. After they’ve shared, the featured artists may pray a prayer over the group that links with the story/art piece.  Then the group will encourage the artist, discuss and ask questions, and respond with how the piece may have touched their hearts. Then they may break into smaller groups and pray for each other. Over the years the group has also done focused studies on such things as the Vineyard prayer model, healing, prophecy, and biblical peacemaking principles; in order to better equip the group members spiritually and artistically. They often meditate on scripture, create things together during worship or spend time listening for God’s voice as a group or on behalf of specific members. Sometimes prophetic art will be created as a response. During these times they say “everyone gets to play” and share, regardless of skill level or spiritual maturity. Many have experienced healing and answered prayers from these times in group.

On occasion artists from the group will share their work and stories with the larger congregation, and it is typically a powerful and encouraging experience for all involved.

Hope for Artists Worship night

Hope for Artists also has an outward focus, reaching out to approximately two artistic events in the community each month.  Linda says, “A number of group members go to the events after we pray, supporting group members who are taking part in the events and connecting with other artists that aren’t a part of our church. We look for opportunities to befriend them, pray when prompted, or just give encouragement to the artists and people that we meet. Some of these connections have led to people joining the arts group and several have come to know Christ.”

Hope for Artists is an artist’s group rooted in prayer that nurtures a community of encouragement, and offers their gifts to their congregation, and hope to the city.

Hope for Artists meets two times a month, on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at the Evanston Vineyard Church  (2495 Howard Street, Evanston, IL.) from 7pm-9pm.

Contact Hope for Artists directly at:  linvester (at) aol.com or through the church website.

For more arts ministry models and art community ideas, see Creative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation.

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