Festival helps churches enhance worship, ministry, missions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The creative arts often are unused in churches, but the National Creative Arts Festival seeks to help churches in practical ways incorporate the arts in worship, ministry and missions.

This year's festival is Nov. 7-9 at the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., with registration still continuing.

Churches are encouraged to bring staff and laypeople interested in starting or improving creative arts ministries. Those who attend will participate in workshops and have hands-on training in such areas as clowning, comedy, multimedia, puppetry, technical theater, drama, interpretive movement, miming, visual arts and illusion.

The first such festival was held in Nashville, Tenn., in 1990 after the drama consultant at LifeWay (then the Baptist Sunday School Board) realized a need to have churches nationwide come together for creative arts training. Generally, the festivals are held every four years.

"At every festival at least half the people who come have never been to a conference like this before," Christy Haines, festival coordinator, told Baptist Press. "We are very cognizant of that and want to have classes that will meet the needs of someone who is just wanting to learn how to start a creative arts ministry in their church.

"But also we know there are people who have really strong ongoing ministries in the various areas, so we have intermediate and advanced training."

On the multimedia track, participants will learn to edit for video, budget for video production and communicate the Gospel to those who "listen with their eyes," among other topics. Those on the technical theater track will learn about lighting, scene design, sound and more. Puppetry participants can study black light puppetry, ventriloquism, special effects and other topics. The visual arts track offers chalk drawing, sculpturing and more.

"Even though we are primarily a dramatic arts festival, we realize that the visual arts in churches have never had a home, so we were pleased to add a visual arts track to this conference for those whose talents lie in that direction," Haines said.

One part of the festival that is typically a hit with participants is the performance showcases in which any church creative arts group or individual can perform and receive a positive critique from members of the festival faculty.

The faculty is composed of 100 creative arts professionals who each, as Haines noted, "could be a headliner in his or her own right, but they each choose to be an equal part of this team in a special effort to teach and train churches."

Haines also emphasized that festival organizers call the worship times "celebrations" because they are not showcases but are thematically planned worship services which incorporate the different creative arts.

"It's a three-pronged approach: It's a time to be trained, it's a time to have vision increased and it's a time to be spiritually renewed," she said.

The National Creative Arts Festival is the largest and most comprehensive festival of its type in the nation, Haines said. About 1,200 people have already registered, and a total of 1,500 are expected to attend. The conference is for ages 13 and above.

Registration rates are $114 per individual, $99 per person for groups registering five or more, and $99 for a fulltime student currently registered in high school, college or seminary.

For more information, visit www.lifeway.com/creativearts or register by calling 1-800-588-7222.


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