Friday, February 17, 2012

More than Words

On Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, our students, faculty, and staff came together to celebrate the arts with dance, music, poetry, drama, biblical storytelling, and cookies and hot chocolate. For the first hour, people stood in the foyer outside the gallery, in rapt attention as Kathryn Sparks danced the 150th Psalm; Dana Olson told the story of Hagar and Ishmael; a group from the drama class took on the personas of women that Jesus met; 
Kathryn Sparks, Psalm 100
Ruth Kent danced to “Oh Freedom”; Lauren Blitz recited her original poem, “Communion’s Choir”; Eleanor Colvin offered her monologue, “On My Knees”; a wind ensemble played Alexandra Crabtree’s arrangement of “All Creatures of our God and King; Jeannie Murray danced “Finding Your Voice”; and Tracy Radosevic told how the Aramaen attack was thwarted from the Second Book of Kings.

Eleanor Colvin, Michele Walton,
Annette Morgan, and Mary Bates-Washington,
"Among the Women Jesus Met"
Kyle Durbin and Tim Gouchenour,
Then, everyone moved into Elderdice, where we watched Michele Walton and Vanya Mullinax do a short scene from Michel’s drama, “Jane”; Jesse Holt Jr. sang Donizetti’s “Una Furtiva Lagrima”; Sherri Ellerbe recited her original poem, “A Parable of Creation”; Drew VanDyke Colby performed his original “Ballad of the Gerasene Demoniac”; Dave Stewart recited two of his original poems; Kyle Durbin and Tim Gouchenour reprised a scene from last year’s performance of “Wittenberg”; Kathleen Henderson Staudt read her poem, “Holy Spirit”; Madelyn Campbell told Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus; and Kathryn Sparks returned to dance the 100th Psalm.

Drew VanDyke Colby,
"Ballad of the Gerasene Demoniac"
Dana Olson, "Hagar and Ishmael"
If it all sounds exhausting, it was. It was also exhilarating, funny, inspiring, touching, irreverent, tender, and moving beyond words to see so many people together, sharing their gifts and receiving one another’s offerings in a spirit of joy. There were both tears and raucous laughter,  as well as jaw-dropping astonishment at the skill and dedication the performers brought to each 3- to 5-minute piece. Like the visual art in the gallery and on the walls of Elderdice that formed a backdrop to the event, this festival of performing arts was a testament to the importance that the arts have in the life of Wesley Theological Seminary, and, ultimately, in the life of the church outside our walls.

Jeannie Murray-Kostryukov,
"Finding Your Voice"
Alexandra Crabtree, Rebecca Torres,
Kay Rodgers, Sean Smith, Paige Wheeler,
"All Creatures of Our God and King"

What people experienced in the Heart the Arts Festival was not sentimental, false, propagandistic “church art.” It was not a talent show. This was the real thing – art that made us think, opened our hearts, and brought us to our feet applauding, grateful for the gifts and talents that God has bestowed on members of our community, and for the hard work and energy that bring those gifts and talents into our midst.

So I want to thank everyone who read or danced or sang or played an instrument or acted a scene; and for everyone who worked behind the scenes to make it all possible. I especially want to thank Alexandra Sherman and Amy Gray, without whose tireless efforts neither the show in the gallery nor the festival would have happened. And I am grateful to everyone whose foresight and support have made Wesley a welcoming place for the arts, a place where everyone knows that the Word of God is more than words.


  1. What a wonderful expression of Love.

  2. Thanks, Martha. It was a pretty amazing day.