In a new Faith in Action story, Hilary Orzel writes about a Lenten art exhibit at First United Methodist Church of Watsonville, aimed at connecting the church with the community – and especially with younger people.
The exhibit features works by young Bay Area artist Drew McSherry, who has just recently begun sharing his paintings with churches.
"In history, churches have always been a haven for the arts," he notes. "Artists who laid the foundation for the development of Western art, like Michelangelo, Titian, and Caravaggio, were all patroned by the churches."
McSherry points out that while music arts have continued to be a big part of church, fine art seems to have lost importance. Bringing fine art back into churches, he argues, will make church more accessible – that more people would be drawn to church and that it would create "a broader audience."
He also sees painting as a way to make religious stories more personal and meaningful for individuals. "Art teaches people to appreciate different visions and ideas. Art does not judge people," he says.
"It's such a wonderful opportunity for us to incorporate spirituality into artwork. I believe the exhibit will be something that helps many people have inspired Lent journeys," she says.
"I think this exhibit is important for a number of reasons," adds the church's pastor, the Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson. "First off, we all need to prepare spiritually for Easter, and artwork during Lent can help us enter into that reflective process. Plus, we are inspired by artistic expression such as Drew's.
"We also hope to share this art show with our congregation and our neighbors, because artwork such as this, in our view, crosses barriers of language, culture, and class. In a way, art speaks all languages.
"Lastly, as a congregation we see this exhibit as a way to model new connections with folks from the broader community with whom we do not usually get to interact – including, specifically, young adults such as Hilary and Drew. This age group is a target demographic now for The United Methodist Church and our Conference, and we are excited about working with them both."
Highlights of Faith in Action stories are shown on a rotating basis, in the lower right corner of the Conference website (www.cnumc.org).
Immediately beneath those highlights is a "Share your story" link: Use it to enter information about what your own church is doing to make a difference!