Conference Reunites the Church and the Arts
The Anselm Society's second annual Your Imagination Redeemed conference draws artists, pastors, and laity from around the country.
Colorado Springs, Colorado. On April 27-28, the Anselm Society hosted a packed conference that brought together two groups with a reputation for not talking much in recent decades: the clergy and artists. More than 150 people attended the event. They included men, women, and children with a desire to see Christianity re-enchanted by wonder and imagination. Pastors and artists presented a vision for a Church in which goodness, truth, and beauty together could capture the hearts of the next generation of Christians.
"In recent years, pastors have been far too alone in the task of spiritual formation," said Anselm director Brian Brown. "Christians should be known for the best stories, songs, and artwork. That art should be part of a long tradition in which they can raise their children to be people of courage, compassion, and imagination. It's inspiring to see people come from all over because they want to be a part of making this happen."
Get a glimpse of the conference sessions; Anselm director Brian Brown's foundational topics session on the place of art in the church, and Anthony Esolen's keynote address.
About the Conference
Your Imagination Redeemed is the annual conference of the Anselm Society, a four year-old Colorado nonprofit dedicated to the renaissance of the Christian imagination. The Society hosts events, encourages and cultivates artists, publishes educational materials, and works with churches to reintegrate the imagination into their worship and ministries. The ecumenical conference is the Anselm Society's flagship event, which uses lectures, workshops, music, visual art, and corporate liturgical worship to educate and inspire pastors, artists, and laymen.
- The conference began on Friday evening and continued through Saturday evening. It was co-sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation, the Rabbit Room, The Cultivating Project, New Life Church, the Anglican Diocese of the Rocky Mountains, and numerous other organizations.
- 2018 keynote speakers Dr. Anthony Esolen and the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns gave lectures on the reintegration of the imagination into the Church; Minns tackling it from a church perspective and Esolen from a literary one. The two also joined Anselm Society director Brian Brown in a Friday panel discussion. Other speakers included noted children's author S.D. Smith, The Cultivating Project founder Lancia Smith, Institute for Bible Reading founder Glenn Paauw, and Rabbit Room author Lanier Ivester.
- Saturday afternoon featured panel discussions by practicing artists, including an author panel on why Christian stories need darkness, tragedy, and sin; and a songwriter panel on the need for popular faith-based music Christian radio often doesn't play.
- The weekend concluded with a glorious participatory Evensong service that included a conference attendee choir singing Ingegneri's O Bone Jesu; readings from Edmund Spenser, John Milton, and others; a male choral rendition of Patrick Doyle's Non Nobis Domine; ancient and new congregational hymns supported by piano, violin, bassoon, oboe, and harp; an original liturgical dance performance; and a retelling of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Leaf, by Niggle," retold by Elena Sorensen and read by S.D. Smith. "Our goal was to feature exclusively pieces of art and music that were in dialogue with the Christian sacred art tradition," explained director Brian Brown. "That's not a 'worship wars' distinction; it's one that allowed us to show what Christians are capable of when they are intentional about the integration of the church and the arts. If the cascading wall of sound from 150+ voices belting out those songs (many in four-part harmony) is any indication, people respond to that kind of purposefulness."
- "The conference this weekend nourished my soul. To say I am grateful is an understatement. One can search knowing they are hungry yet not knowing what they are hungry for will leave them starved and nearly despairing." -Attendee
- "After the year we've had, it was good medicine to be with all of you, and to feast on fellowship and noble ideas. We came home refreshed and excited for the next chapter in our story." -Speaker
- "I really loved the weekend and only wish I could have had more time to spend with all of the like-minded people that I met." -Attendee
- "It was a blessing to me to be a part of such a beautiful service and share dance with the vibrant kindred souls of Anselm." -Evensong performer
2019 Keynote Speaker Announced
At the conference, the Anselm Society announced that its 2019 keynote speaker would be James K.A. Smith, arguably the world's leading voice in the reintegration of the arts and the institutional church. Smith follows Andrew Peterson, Anthony Esolen, and Martyn Minns in the role. More.
- Anselm Society homepage
- 2019 conference information
- 2018 conference page with full schedule, speaker list, gallery, and more.
Images courtesy Lancia E. Smith Photography and Teressa Mahoney Photography.