Professor of Theology, University of Otago
"Artists help us to see differently. They help us to see more deeply into the nature of things and open vistas to meanings we had not suspected. They have a vital contribution to make, therefore, in enriching our understanding of the reality of God and enhancing our appreciation of the good news of the gospel. As with all the gifts that God has bestowed upon his people, the gifts of artistic vision and insight can serve the church in its call to proclaim, enact, and participate in God’s good purposes for the world. This Symposium is sure to lead us to a greater appreciation of such gifts."
Rev Dr Richard Waugh QSM
Chairman, Auckland Church Leaders Meeting
"The church over the ages has had a turbulent relationship with arts; for example fine buildings and cathedrals which are experiences of transcendence for some and objects of idolatry for others. At other times art has been purposely removed from churches. Yet art can be such a creative expression of thought and discipleship, where our attention can be wrestled from everyday banality and refocussed on God eternal and the revelation of Jesus Christ. I commend the 2020 arts symposium as it will enable many to speak into the deep issues of our human journey and God’s mission today."
Visual liturgist and projection artist, illuminate.us
"Engaging with artists is one of the most important things a church can do. Their work adds colour to black & white theology and illuminates the Gospel in ways that preaching simply cannot do. As people of faith living in chaotic and divisive times, we desperately need artists to awaken our imaginations and teach us how to communicate with the culture around us… a culture that is starving for wonder and enchantment."
Brian D. McLaren
author, speaker, brianmclaren.net
"We all know (well, almost all) that our churches are in need of change. From musical style to inclusion of marginalized people to power structures to issues of message and meaning, church leaders today face special challenges, and have been called to courageous, creative leadership "for such a time as this." That's why I'm grateful for the upcoming conference on artists and the arts in our churches. The discerning eyes, creative minds, skillful hands, and empathetic hearts of our artists are especially and urgently needed at this moment, both in our congregations and in the culture at large. I hope you will consider accepting this invitation to be part of this important, meaningful, and expansive conversation in Aotearoa."
Interactive-installation artist - practitioner of Guerrilla Worship and Visual Homilectics
"The role of arts within church is more essential than ever; in particular visual art. Not just icing on the present cake, but a new way of expressing the verb 'faith'. This symposium is a great opportunity to further this understanding."
Founder and Director , ATELIER Ministries & ATELIER Studio|Gallery
"Artists and creatives of faith offer to the church and to the world a unique voice and authentic expression that engages with and explores the diverse issues and themes of life, coloured by their individual experience and personal relationship to God. This expression may be messy, emotional, or political, it might be challenging, beautiful, or highly personal, and it may not sit easily with the status quo. Yet, creative expression provides opportunities to unlock the hearts and minds of people, to create space for the illuminating presence of God, and to speak directly into the darkness of the age to reveal hope. The dialogue between artists and the church offered in this gathering is a necessary one, not only for building bridges between these two communities, but for forming 'one people' measuring to the fullness of Christ where "he makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." (Ephesians 4:16)
Rev Dr Steve Taylor
Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
"Artists are a gift to the church, as they enlarge our understandings of what it means to image Christ in our world today. As Paul in Acts 17 took time to listen to the poets and consider the sculptures of the urban world of Athens, so professional development of ministers in ministry today needs to include taking the time to listen to artists and contemplate art. The results will include a deepening of personal faith, a developing in the ability to communicate faith and a richer humanity."
"In the modern church , particularly the Evangelical church, we like to keep things practical, useful, logical…. Words like transcendence, mystery and imagination make us feel a little twitchy and uncomfortable.
The problem is, when art is engaged to propagate and promote a cause, it often ends up being not very good art.
I just happen to believe that artists should be supported because art is important. Art-making can often be a solitary, or even lonely enterprise. Artists are often misunderstood - partly because a lot of art is a few steps beyond its audience…. Artists in churches need to be better understood and supported."
Visual Artist and founder/facilitator of the Bonfire, a support network for creatives of faith, positioned in arts, design and media in New Zealand
"How to care well for an artist in the church and how to make the church a home for creatives is critical to the ministry of every church. I speak from firsthand experience as someone who has experienced both ends of the spectrum from deep discouragement to liberating support."
Theologian N.T. Wright
"In my experience the Christian painter or poet, sculptor or dancer, is regularly regarded as something of a curiosity, to be tolerated, humoured even, maybe even allowed to put on a show once in a while. But the idea that they are, or could be, anything more than that—that they have a vocation to re-imagine and re-express the beauty of God, to lift our sights and change our vision of reality—is often not even considered."
Peter & Jessica Crothall
co-founders Chrysalis Seed Arts Network, mentors and supporters of Christian artists, artists
"A gathering to help pastors understand artists is timely and urgent. In the Evangelical wing of the church today the arts are starting to be embraced in a way they have not been since the smashing of stained glass windows and statues by Oliver Cromwell and other reformers 500 years ago. Artists and the world of arts media remain relatively unreached subcultures in Aotearoa. A growing number of students and contemporary artists are embracing both a personal faith in Jesus and a commitment to professional practice. The question is will they find a nurturing and equipping place within local churches?
One of the challenges for church pastors is to use contemporary arts effectively without abusing artists. Can we develop user friendly environments and practices for artists in churches while still releasing them to be light and salt in the world of arts and media throughout our nation?"
Rev Dr Lynne M. Baab
Seattle-based writer and teacher, former senior lecturer in Pastoral Theology at University of Otago
"Embracing the arts and artists in congregations is a key ministry strategy for the 21st century, because the arts are a vital way to connect with local communities outside the church. But this embrace goes far beyond an outreach strategy. Artists have always had so much to teach Christians. The arts help us see God in new ways and help us deepen our faith, and artists can help people on the margins of congregations to find new ways to connect. In addition, Christian artists are called by God to contribute to the body of Christ and the advance of the Gospel just like all other Christians, and congregational leaders need to help them figure out how to do that wisely and well.
Mark Pierson is an excellent person to stimulate discussion on these topics. In 2010, I attended a conference on the arts in Christian ministry, hosted by Mark in Christchurch, and it was the single most stimulating and worshipful event I experienced in my decade in New Zealand. I encourage congregational leaders—including ministers, board members, small group leaders, children and youth ministry directors—to attend this event."
Musician, Communicator, Writer
"Throughout history artists have often been either a source of life or a source of pain for the church community. Now, in an image and sound saturated world there couldn't be a more perfect moment to revisit how artists and the church can relate together to help humanity flourish."
This symposium is a great opportunity to continue the conversation between curators of the cultural arts and curators of God's communities. A relationship that when truly flourishing has the power to create new and hopeful futures for humanity
As an artist myself I feel so aware of the need for better understanding between the church and our artists. Both from the perspective of an at times misunderstood artist and also from how I've grown from working with church leaders over the years. This symposium offers a real opportunity to do just that."