Seeing and believing : using visual art in spiritual formation in the local congregation
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The purpose of this project is to explore how visual art can help individuals and local congregations move in some new directions as they seek to reclaim the essence of their calling--namely, the life-long process of growth toward the ful lness of Christ. The First Congregational United Church of Christ in Charlevoix, Michigan, was the setting in which much of the research was attained and applied.
Part One is a general inquiry into the place of aesthetics in the Christian life. Its conclusion is that art is a gift which God has given to humankind in order to glorify God and to refresh and strengthen the Christian life. A case is made that we are called to seek out and involve ourselves with works of art as they inform us theologically, enrich us spiritually, and serve as channels through which God may speak.
Part Two addresses how spiritual formation takes place in individuals and congregations. The work of Urban T. Holmes and Corrine Ware is used as a foundation for identifying different types of spirituality and for exploring how visual art can assist people in their spiritual journeys. The spiritual discipline of "Lectio Divina" is re-defined and re-interpreted as "Visio Divina" for use with visual art.
Part Three is a presentation and analysis of actual experiences individuals and the congregation at large in Charlevoix have had using visual art in religious education, corporate worship, personal prayer, and outreach--categories that parallel the spiritual components of Holmes' Circle of Sensibility. Some examples are offered as to how visual art has been used to enhance spiritual formation in the First Congregational UCC in Charlevoix.
This project gives evidence that utilizing visual art in more intentional ways will not only bring a renewed sense of spiritual vitality to those individuals who engage it directly, but can move whole congregations through its power to awaken, inform, illuminate, and deepen our life in the Spirit.