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Eyes To See Summary Mike Cosper and Michael Winters Sojourn Community Church Louisville, Kentucky

Sojourn Community Church is a church in the urban heart of Louisville, Kentucky. Planted in 2000, the community is largely made up of young families in their 20’s and 30’s. From early on in the life of the church, we’ve sought to make the arts part of our DNA. This desire has resulted in a range of efforts and of lessons learned in the effectiveness of various means for mobilizing the congregation and serving the broader community. To describe some the way the arts serve the life of Sojourn, it is helpful to see them in three broad categories – though there are no neat and tidy lines of division. Each category bleeds through to the others. The Visual Arts Ministry Sojourn’s Visual Arts ministry seeks to provide opportunities for visual artists to use their gifts to learn by creating and to wash people’s feet. Learning by creating is the way we describe the process of meditation that happens when an artist uses his or her gifts to respond to and reflect upon the scriptures. Marrying the creative process to the meditative process provides a tremendous opportunity for the artist to tie their practices as artist to their practices of worship. We also encourage our artists to approach their work as servants, seeking to use their gifts and their creative work to serve and bless others – to wash their feet. The culture of the arts is rampant with self-glorifying, competitive attitudes. It is our desire to teach artists that the way up is the way down – that to serve is better than to be served – that to foster someone else’s gifts is better than to accomplish something alone. We long to turn creative culture on its head and see a Christ-centered, servant-hearted culture emerge. Our arts ministry gathers weekly to work on projects together, attend galleries, and host workshops on the creative arts. We meet in the a studio space at our facility that is dedicated to this ministry, where supplies are kept and projects are kept available to work on weekly, or whenever the artists would like to come by and work. The projects tend to be either in response to the scriptures being preached or in response to the needs that have emerged in other ministries. Most often, the general subject will be assigned to them by the arts director based upon the upcoming needs in the church. Their work is used to communicate sermon themes through bulletins and Powerpoint, printed and distributed as gifts to the congregation, and through various other means of communication like postcards, signage, and the website. As one may imagine, with many artists participating in the ministry, their comes a range of styles in the submissions and a great need for unifying those styles. For that reason, we invest great energy in Graphic Design. Graphic Design Graphic design involves creating a “graphic identity” for the church. By creating some rules about fonts, logos, and layout, it allows us to use the wide range of artistic styles submitted and to unify them. This can be done through logos, layouts, and printing techniques. Graphic design is a tremendous creative process in itself. As churches get more of a presence on the internet, graphic design becomes more and more important in communicating an identity, values, and content. Because design is often needed on a shorter timeline, we’ve found it necessary with some projects to pay designers a stipend. This is most often true with time-sensitive projects like postcards for upcoming events and web content, Projects related to our art gallery (more information below) and music venue tend to be taken care of on a volunteer basis.


Eyes To See Summary Mike Cosper and Michael Winters Sojourn Community Church Louisville, Kentucky

The 930 Art Center In the fall of 2006, Sojourn renovated and moved into our facilities at 930 Mary Street. It was almost assumed as we found space that we would open an arts center. (Much as some churches open a family life center, or build baseball parks, we wanted to open an arts center) The arts center houses a couple of galleries, studio spaces, and two music venues. The gallery shows feature a range of artists, from nationally recognized Christian artists like Deirdre Luzwick and Kevin Rolly, to emerging local artists like James R. Southard and Casey Roberts. We also host juried exhibitions open to anyone who’d like to submit their work. Several times a year, the Visual Arts Ministry coordinates the exhibit in cooperation with other local nonprofits. One such exhibit, was in December 2007. The exhibit was titled “The New Sudan” and featured the work of Nadus Films, a group documenting the current political, social, and religious needs in Southern Sudan. It featured photography and drawings from young Sudanese students and installation work put together by the film crew and Sojourn visual artists. A second, smaller gallery in the building shows art by Sojourn Artists year-round. The large gallery is in the main entrance of our building and covers about 2,200 square feet. The church gathers in this space on Sunday mornings, and the gallery has become – in an odd way – part of the liturgical life of the church. Throughout the life of the church, we try to teach the congregation to see how all beauty is in some way a reflection of the glory of God. We teach on the value of the arts in our membership classes and continually encourage our members to serve as volunteers at art openings and at venue events. Summary The Visual Arts Ministry The visual arts ministry is still a relatively small core in our church. Nonetheless it’s been beautiful to see artists find joy in the opportunity to serve the broader community. Their impact has been tremendous. When you gather in Sojourner’s homes or places of work, you’ll find artwork from Sojourn projects on refrigerators, in frames, and on walls. They have begun to create a Christ-centered visual culture for the congregation. Graphic Design Graphic design serves as a filter through which all of the art in the church travels and links the art itself to the community at large. It ties the visual art to a sense of belonging and a sense of place. The 930 Art Gallery As we have seen the church and broader community interact with the gallery, we have come to really appreciate the way the space and the art creates opportunities for conversation. It takes significant energy to preserve the integrity of the gallery – it’s often a temptation to turn it into a lobby.


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