West’s creative leaders ‘revived’

Territorial worship arts retreat recognizes artists  

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By Joy Yi – 

Artists and worship leaders from across The Salvation Army Western Territory convened at Camp Redwood Glen in Scotts Valley, Calif., Feb. 13-15 for the territorial worship arts retreat, “REVIVE.” For the 108 delegates, the weekend solidified the importance of creativity in God’s kingdom.

TransMission, the Southern Territory’s rock band; the Territorial Arts Ministries (TAM) team from the Eastern Territory; and Matt Tommey, founder of the Worship Studio, based in Asheville, N.C., led the united sessions in worship.

Delegates took to heart Tommey’s message.

“In a time when creative arts ministries seem to be devalued, Matt gave me hope that there’s a place in the kingdom for creatives…a very important place,” said Andrew Frees from the Tualatin Valley (Ore.) Citadel Corps. “Art has a way of moving people that words cannot… It’s my responsibility to be a good steward of the artistic abilities that the Lord has given me and hone those skills so my work can affect [others]. I felt validated as an artist.”

Tommey’s view that “when you live in a kingdom, the nature of that kingdom always reflects the nature of the king,” resonated with Cadet Blake Wilson.

“Since we serve a creative God, we need to tell God’s story in creative ways,” Wilson said. “If you have any passion, or if you are even slightly good at anything, put your time and effort into that, and God will bless your talents and passions immensely.”

TAM’s dramatic performances included a Reader’s Theater about unlocking the heart of the artist and finding freedom as a worshipper; a comedic sketch of the feeding of the 5,000 that revealed the potential and purpose of the kingdom of God; a-play-within-a-play unveiling the insecurities of every artist; and a movement piece called “Revive.”

During “Playback Theater,” TAM members invited delegates to share stories of times they could see God’s creative work in their lives. TAM listened carefully to the stories, and afterward retold them through improvisation. One at a time, three delegates spoke and then saw their story unfold before them.

Each reenactment elicited both laughter and tears from the audience.

“I had no idea when I shared…that it was a release that I needed,” said Becki Barnett from the Yakima (Wash.) Corps. “I talked with just one person before about asking God why was it Teri and not me who got the cancer. I never told Teri I had asked such a thing…that opened the door for some conversations that we never had. I was so blessed. It was like a breath of fresh air that I needed.”

Workshops provided resources and teaching in drama, scriptwriting, dance, multimedia, praise and worship, songwriting and visual arts.

“We’ve already discussed as a corps group that incorporating more creative ministries in our weekly programming and in our Sunday service will benefit our congregation greatly and we’ve set out a plan to do so,” Frees said. “We’re excited to get started.”

Wilson also left feeling inspired.

He said, “I think this weekend will help me when I am trying to find new ways to do things, and help me encourage young and old artists to reach their full potential.”

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