Historically when the arts have been used in the [Catholic] church in Italy they have often become objects of worship rather than pointing the viewer to the One we should worship.
Understandably, that’s left the evangelical church with a reluctance and fear of engaging the arts. Yet we have seen the effectiveness of arts in ministry and Jon has a vision to see the Church take it back for Gods glory.
A couple months ago marked what we believe to be an important milestone for arts ministry in Italy when Jon co-led this first meeting of an arts group for our local church, Nuova Vita (NV, meaning “New Life”) in Bologna.
There are currently about 13 artists in the group and it has been an exciting time of building community and exploring what part a group of artists plays in the body of Christ. They are imagining together an Italy that is changed by the gospel as it is experienced through art in the church.
There may be other groups in Italy like this one, but according to the church leaders we know, if they exist they are pretty rare. Despite the evangelical cultural resistance to it, our pastors are very supportive of this new movement and excited about the potential it has to effect this nation for Christ (and we are so grateful for their support).
After meeting just a couple times in the fall of last year, the NV group made plans for a special first annual Christmas party and secret Santa gift exchange. But not just any secret Santa exchange. It was a mutual commissioning for pieces of art.
Each artist used his or her creative talent to make something for the person whose name they had for the exchange. Then they did the exchange as a group at the party. It was incredible not only to see the creativity and talent in this group but to see how each gift was so thoughtfully and intentionally crafted. It was so inspiring to witness how they cared for each other and encouraged one another through their biblical world view. It was a wonderful way to deepen community a better appreciation for each artist’s gift. Of course the night also included a bit of feasting including one of Jon’s deep dish pizzas made with love for his fellow artists.
What a way to celebrate the gift of Immanuel and to build anticipation for what God may have in store in the New Year. Praise God for this movement and pray for the season ahead as they seek to grow as artists who are Christ followers desiring to serve the church and our community through the Arts!