Church Seeks Pioneer Minister for Glasgow Arts Community

Imagine a church where people pray and worship through creating visual art. That's part of the vision for a new pioneer ministry that will work with Glasgow's Arts community.

clad pillar Artists Heidi and Peter Gardner have created installations including this 'Pillar of Peace' at Renfield St Stephens in Glasgow.

The Pioneer Glasgow Arts minister will be charged with engaging with artists –especially visual artists—across the city and exploring new forms of worship and ways of expressing faith.

Fiona Crawford, strategy officer at Glasgow Presbytery said:

"Glasgow's art scene is vibrant and cutting edge, producing many Turner prize winners and finalists. The city has always attracted and nurtured artists and so we're really excited to be advertising this post, not least because it coincides with Glasgow City Council announcing significant investment within the East End to create a cultural quarter

"Glasgow is such a great place to live and work as an artist. Arts hubs and collectives are producing internationally recognised work, design practices are blossoming, there are several independent film production companies and art is being used across the city to facilitate social change.

"Many artists would describe themselves as spiritual but the institutional form of the church doesn't always leave enough room for people to be creative and, as a church, we are aware that we've not taken enough time to connect.

"As part of this Pioneer ministry, we want to engage with the fine-arts community in a way that has greater resonance with their practice. We see this new church community being a place where art and worship will be closely entwined

"The possibilities for how this goes forward are so exciting – we already envisage a lot of collaboration with other congregations so that we can share what's explored and allow the whole Presbytery to benefit."

The long-term goal for the Pioneer Ministry is to build a supportive Christian community of artists that will ultimately be self-sustaining.

Eyes on the Sky This installation at Renfield St Stephens Church of Scotland in Glasgow was created by Heidi and Peter Gardner. Peter is the minister for the church.

Creative work is already underway in Churches

The Arts ministry will build on creative work already underway in Glasgow churches. At Renfield St Stephen's, for example, Heidi and Peter Gardner have been creating inspiring art installations inside the Church for the last decade.

One permanent installation is the Peacemakers loom, which has greeted thousands of people as they walk through the open door of the church, finding space to stop, weave, pray or meditate on peace.

At St George's Tron Artist in Residence Iain Campbell works in public and displays his art in the church. Iain recently completed a painting of The Last Supper, that portrayed homeless men from Glasgow City Mission.

Norman Smith Vice-Convener of the Church of Scotland's Mission and Discipleship Council said:

"The Christian faith is alive and well, but people today don't always connect with the Church as we have known it. This exciting pioneer ministry will reach out to Glasgow's artistic community and build a church based on the needs and talents of artists.

"We also hope that this ministry will connect with the artistic work already underway in churches across the city and help strengthen the visual arts in our congregations and communities."

"Church of Scotland ministers have always been pioneers, but in today's Missionary context we need to take the Gospel to people who may never have been inside a church building. We have always understood that the Church is the people and not the building. By creating these pioneer ministries we are planting new churches that will be centred on people and the communities they live in.

"Let's not forget that every church at one time was a new church. These pioneer ministries are new churches for the 21st century."

The 2014 General Assembly allocated £1 million over five years to pilot five pioneer ministries across Scotland. The Glasgow Arts Community ministry is the second to be advertised. The other pioneer ministry that is accepting applications is the Farming Ministry based in Ayrshire.

Applications for both the Glasgow Arts Community minister and the Ayr Farming Community minister close at noon on Friday 29 April.

loom This French loom has been used to create the weavings for Renfield St Stephen's installations.

Three other Pioneer Ministries in works

Still in the pipeline are three remaining pioneer ministries:

  • A ministry for students based in Stirling
  • A ministry for residents of Hopefield housing development in Midlothian
  • A ministry for inner-city residents of Ferguslie Park in Paisley

Based in Ayr, the farming minister will support hard-pressed farmers and people working in the farming industry. The post has been hailed by MSPs, the National Farmers Union and the rural charity RSABI as particularly valuable and needed at a time when the farming sector is suffering an economic downturn.

Application materials for Church of Scotland vacancies including the pioneer ministries posts.