by Tamara Murphy
Through a complex and surprising series of events in the summer of 2006 I found myself
as the interim worship and arts director at a large non-denomination church in upstate
NY. Not only did I accept the job for which I had little experience but also, in a creative
freefall, agreed to coordinate the first-ever art show in the church. Not only the first art
show in this specific church, but likely the first art show in a church in the entire southern
tier of New York state.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Naturally, I Googled “church art show”. In the first page of results I clicked the
HopeArts link and discovered a whole new world of theologically-solid, artistically-
imaginative and relationally-rooted resources for our little band of hopeful artists to
replicate. It would be a few years before I was able to personally thank anyone from
Hope Chapel, but even before that time I felt mentored and held up by, well, Hope. Over
time, we not only followed in their footsteps for the art show, but also for the 8 minutes
max events. In every sense, our church in upstate NY became irrevocably related to the
good work in Austin.
Fast forward five years and in yet another series of complex and surprising events I find
myself living in Austin. As if the Holy Spirit were gleefully turning pages in the story
of my life, I found myself at Hope Chapel on Saturday night, September 10. Not only at
Hope Chapel, but at the 8 minutes max event serving as a kick-off event for the next art
festival. What serendipity!
What I couldn’t tell from a website was how relaxed the setting would feel. Or how
welcoming. My son and I didn’t even get in the door of the church before making a new
friend. The sparkling water and frozen berries were a natural, refreshing touch on a hot
Austin weekend. I wouldn’t have known that we would feel so at home in a new place.
I might have known, though, that even in Austin, artists are nervous about performing
new work and are as needy for affirmation in Texas as in New York. And that Hope
Arts provides an artistic umbrella for churches and artists all over the city of Austin.
Although, if I’d had to guess, I could have probably told you that.
I’m looking forward to many more events leading up the Tenth HopeArts Festival,
exploring the theme Co-forging Living Art, making new friends and, hopefully, new art.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep pinching myself that I even get to be here at all.
Tamara recently re-located from upstate NY where she served as a shepherd of artists and worship leaders in her church. In Austin, she is working full-time shepherding the four artists she proudly calls her children. She blogs her learnings at www.livingpalm.blogspot.com.
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