Arts and Ministry
This article is the first in a series of articles for the Communiqué in the coming year. Each month we will be telling the stories of artists in our diocese and province to inspire people to embrace the arts as a form of worship and connection with our Creator.
My journey into Anglicanism was a complete accident. Knowing my background as a classically trained musician, my friends told me to visit St. Peter’s Cathedral in Tallahassee, at least once, to hear the music. My first Sunday, I was struck by the crystal clear tones of the choir, their luscious sound washing over me singing the Psalms. The beauty of the music affected me so much that I started to come every week with anticipation. I took home the bulletins and read through the liturgy, studying its order, analyzing the words. It was unlike anything I had experienced before in worship, and to my great delight, many of the liturgical texts were set to music. This offered a freshness and beauty to the liturgy, allowing me to hear the words in a new way each week.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the combination of beautiful music and truth communicated through a regular liturgy would set me on a path of spiritual healing. I have experienced depression, anxiety, and wounds from my past. The music and liturgy in the Anglican church gave me a regular experience of God’s beauty that, over time, has started to restore the broken places in my soul.
In February 2020, my church hosted a songwriter’s retreat with United Adoration, a movement of artists and pastors who want to see creativity thrive in the local church. One way they live out this call is by hosting creative sessions and weekend retreats. At the retreat in February, we had 15 songwriters in our region gather from five churches to write fifteen songs, collaborating across two states. We wrote new music from collects, Psalms, public domain hymn texts, and Scripture. Collaboration emerged among people who had not previously worked together, and we discovered gifts for poetry, lyrics, and melodies from people who had not previously shared their work. I even used one of the songs that was written at the retreat for the Ash Wednesday service a couple of weeks later. This is the mission of United Adoration - to see creativity thrive in the local church, to see artists healed, to breathe new life into the text of the liturgy with Spirit-led creativity, refined in collaboration with other artists.
For your consideration:
- How has art, beauty, or music made a difference in your walk with God?
- How could your church foster creativity and collaboration among artists in your community?
Catherine Miller is the Director of Classical Music at Trinity Anglican Church in Thomasville, GA. Below is a recording of one of her songs which was featured at the 2020 Synod of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese. This song was written through United Adoration creative sessions from March to May 2020. It would not exist without their encouragement, constructive critique, and collaboration. Many thanks to Megan Young, Chris Hall, Sally Hernandez, and Trinity Anglican Church for helping us arrange the music and produce the video.