This fall in the first-ever Banner Open Mic, readers submitted videos of their original music, poetry and spoken word. Out of the submissions, 19 videos were selected to be shared on thebanner.org. We were curious about how the artists see their art interacting with the church community, so we asked a few of them. (Link back to the video compilation page for details on each artist’s church affiliation.)
Juliana Bileya composes songs for the Hausa speaking people of Nigeria and for a wider English audience. She says creativity makes the Bible message understandable. For Noberto Wolf, “all areas of art give to our church community the opportunity to express not only their faith but also their trials and joys.” Wolf, a pastor who served in his native Argentina, writes his poetry in Spanish. He translated his Banner submission, “Martirio,” to English (“Martyrdom”) and both versions appear in the video. The poem was written for his friend, a bishop whose church was on the same street as Wolf’s church in Patagonia.
The Psalms inspire worship leader Joel Jupp to write songs for the community beyond his church: “Local art has power...Each context is different, and thanks be to God, we have artists all around the globe—and yes, in every neighborhood—who can create new art.” Jupp’s music has become a connection with international students at the college where he teaches.
Nicholas Engbers also writes for a broader community. He describes his music as asking thoughtful questions of life and human experience, which he hopes will lead to a place of wonder. “While I seldom write worship music, I do chase ideas that are beautiful and true. Such ideas definitely have a place in church communities everywhere,” he said.
Elise Arsenault said her submission "In the Velvet" is an audience favorite at performances. It also inspired one friend to create a visual art piece. Elise believes that art can open us to richer relationships with God and others, “It cultivates empathy and wonder, fleshing things out in an invitational way, and celebrating with color and sound. We’ll never get it entirely right—so it goes with every part of embodying the Kingdom on earth as we know it. But it doesn’t mean we don’t try, right?”
We do try. Engaging the arts and each other within the Christinan Reformed Church is what motivated this open mic call for The Banner. Editor-in-chief Shiao Chong said that the call for video submissions may become an annual event, if readers continue to participate.
Jupp, the worship leader in West Chicago, would vote yes. “I applaud the effort to raise awareness and to inspire others to create. We need more opportunities like this,” he said.