In February, (this post is long overdue but better late than never!) God gave me the opportunity to visit First Baptist Church of Paducah, Kentucky. Why Paducah? That story begins about 10 years ago just outside of Chicago, Illinois. It was there that I met Pastor Charles at the church where I attended and served during college. I later had the privilege of doing my pastoral internship under Pastor Charles, which prepared me in many ways for a life in full time ministry.
We have stayed connected over the years. They’ve always been a great blessing to us and this past year he invited me to the church where he is currently pastoring, in Paducah, Kentucky.
During my college internship we talked about how I had a passion for seeing artists being used in the church and in ministry. At the time he was intrigued and very supportive but it seemed like more of a foreign concept to him. Now his perspective has completely changed as he shepherds a community of people many of which are artists.
Paducah is a small midwest town with a big arts community. It wasn’t always that way but thanks to some government incentives many artists are thriving there. You can read more about the fascinating transformation here.
First Baptist Church of Paducah caught a glimpse of the possibilities surrounding them to reach their community through arts ministry and they wanted me to come help them make it happen. They made it possible for me to come to the church for a visit. In the weeks preceding some of the leaders of the arts ministry initiative and I planned some events together that would be a kick-off for the arts ministry. Then the week I was there I had the chance to talk with some of artists at FBC. I listened to their stories, shared mine, and we talked about art in the church. It was really exciting to watch them realize more fully that their artistic abilities are valued by God and can be used for His glory in and outside of the church. I was honored to see God do some big things in their hearts and minds to renew and remake their passion for the arts.
Over the weekend I helped facilitate an arts workshop for the church where I also spoke about the concept of using art as a platform for ministry. It was well attended and well received.
The theme was: “Who You Are” and each person was asked to create a collage that was a type of self portrait in response. When all the pieces were finished they were combined to create a collaborative collage.
I was also able to preach with a focus on missions. Unfortunately Kentucky was hit with one of the worst winter storms in its history so all the services were cancelled, but I was able to preach on camera and the message was shown at a later service date.
The weekend I was invited to be there was an especially important weekend in the life of the church as it was a time when the leadership were sharing new vision and direction for the church. It was a great honor and privilege to be a part of such a pivitol time for the body there. It was clear that God had been preparing His people for it and while I went to serve as a catalyst for their new arts ministry movement, the conversations I had and things I witnessed really encouraged me. I could see God had been preparing me too for this particular opportunity through the experiences I’ve had throughout my life and more recenly on the field in Italy where I am involved in doing arts in and through the church.
As if that wasn’t enough, it was inspiring to be with Pastor Charles as he shared his day to day life with me for a week. It was great to catch up with him and his family after not seeing each other for a few years and God used them in my life to sharpen and encourage me.
I am so thankful for how God knits us together in the body of Christ, from Paducah, Kentucky to Northwest, Italy. And I’m excited to see how He continues to use the arts to build His kingdom here and there.
(Story written by Erika as told by Jon)