Eastern Mennonite University's Professor Jerry Holsopple and four students contributed to a newly released documentary "A Creative God: The Visual Arts in Worship." (Courtesy photo)

Digital media students contribute to visual arts in worship film

Four Eastern Mennonite University digital media and communications students, with co-producer Professor Jerry Holsopple, have contributed to a new documentary video about the use of visual art in worship. Titled “A Creative God: The Visual Arts in Worship,” the release is part of the Together in Worship resource collection from Anabaptist sources.

Rebecca Slough, professor emerita of worship and the arts at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, is also a co-producer.

The video is the centerpiece of the collection, which are supported a 2021-2022 Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by Lilly Endowment
Inc. Additional funding came from the Marpeck Dean’s Fund.

The video and an accompanying discussion guide are designed to inspire the imaginations of
congregations who are ready to explore how the visual dimensions of worship might expand
their relationship with God and with each other.

Students Allison Shelly, Asha Beck, MyKenzie David and Alijah Johnson joined theology graduate students from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in the project. Students conducted interviews with key leaders in seven intercultural Anabaptist congregations that use visual art in worship. Slough and Holsopple described the students who worked on the project as “representing a span of ages and cultural experiences that enriched the work of our intercultural documentary team.”

Congregations from Pennsylvania and Virginia participated, including Community Mennonite Church and Laurel Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster; Immanuel Mennonite Church and Manantial de Vida Ministries in Harrisonburg; New Hope Mennonite Church in Alexandria, Virginia; Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Whitehall Mennonite Church, in Whitehall, Pennsylvania.

“We believed the selected congregations had insights to share with the broader church about creating worship spaces that welcome all who want to participate,” Slough said.

Holsopple was inspired “by the thoughtful ways the artists and leaders approached the visual
arts in their own worship spaces and practices.” He observed how the creators of the art were
themselves changed by the use of their work within worship: “Many seemed to be more
connected to their worshiping communities.”

Two public online events will feature more about the documentary and discussion guide:
● Teaching webinar hosted by Anabaptist Worship Network, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m. Eastern, 1pm Central, 60-90 min.
● Video premiere and Q&A with the documentary team, Thursday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 6:30pm Central, 75 min.