Update on Retreat for Ministers to Artists

I am pleased to announced that the marvelously talented Brooke Waggoner will be joining us as our guest musician at the upcoming retreat for ministers to artists. Phaedra and I first heard of Brooke at Charlie Peacock's house. Charlie had recently produced her Go Easy Little Doves concert DVD and both he and Andi spoke highly of her, as artist, as a person, as a believer. He gave us a copy of her CD and we instantly fell in love with her work.

If I have my facts right, she closed out the 2008 SXSW festival and returned again in 2009. (Here's a nice interview with Relevant, fyi.) A Louisiana native, Brooke started playing piano at the age of 4, wrote original pieces at 10, and grew up immersed in the classical music world. After graduating Louisiana State University in 2006, Brooke moved to Nashville to pursue a music career, where she plays what I'd call, well, epic-folk-atmospheric-classically-informed-energetically-soulful-poignant music.

So that, in short, completes a provisional trifecta for our retreat: Frederica Mathewes-Green, Brooke Waggoner and myself. Plus a whole bunch of really amazing folks that I know are already coming. (See here for my note about the lovely Frederica.) And I have a few other possible treats of my sleeve (or at least they're up the redoubtable Steven Purcell's sleeve).

See preview of Brooke's music below.

Very simply: folks who feel any kind of call to shepherd artists. If you love caring for artists, this retreat is for you. If you find yourself lying awake in the middle of the night conceiving of residency programs that contribute to the spiritual and artistic formation of artists, the retreat's for you. If you think discipleship of artists is a holistic business, you'll have come to the right retreat. If you mentor fledgling artists, come. If you seek alternative models for fostering the calling of artists, you should consider coming.

You may work in the context of the church, officially or unofficially, or in a para-church setting or in an educational institution or in a professional society. Or you may be a floater who feels called to be in the lives of artists whenever, however and wherever the Spirit leads. This retreat is for you.

You may have decades of experience or you may just be starting out in this work. This retreat is for you.

It'll take place again at the beautiful Laity Lodge in the hill country of central Texas. Here is the info about the retreat this past spring on Laity Lodge's website. Registration is officially open.

See here for a brief description of year one. See here an advanced note about this past spring. Here is one participant's report of the recent retreat.

Here, finally, is a good word from somebody who attended both retreats. His name is Jeffrey Guy and he helps lead an arts ministry at Trinity Anglican Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He's also quite the visual artist.

"Entering the retreats with skeptical expectations, I met authentic Christians who shared my passions relating to the arts. I witnessed also how the Holy Spirit is at work in His body, the Church, and discovered art's importance in God's economy. All of the lectures by accomplished artisans and pastors (and I've been twice now) were meaningful.

However it was the retreaters encountered at Laity that by far resonated, inspired and instructed me by way of their collected experience. Whether we were trekking through the canyon, enjoying a delicious meal or putting our hands together for some creative time, it far surpassed my expectations and laid my skepticism to rest. These retreats were where I found my 'tribe'


Thomas Cogdell said…
Hey David,

Perfect timing to bring Brooke to my attention today. It's my daughter Peggy's 16th birthday, so I bought her a sampling of Brooke's songs. I'd never heard of her before, but I'm really enjoying her music.

All the best to you from this one representative of your fan club in Austin ... come home soon man!


Thomas, you just made my night. That's so sweet and it thrills me to know that Peggy got a copy of Brooke's music. If perchance she wanted any of that music signed (if that's the kind of thing Peggy would like), I'm sure we could make that arrangement around the time of the retreat.

Please know that I only have fond memories of the younger Cogdell family, and especially of the dinner we shared with you and Amy a few years back. Greetings to all.

Tamara: whaddup!
Alex Humphrey said…
David, will there be more of these retreats? I already have a seminar scheduled for the following week and there is no way I can get off work for both.

This is something I feel very strongly called to do. I want to shepherd creativity in people and help them find that bit of God inside of them (our God is nothing if not creative!)

It excites me that there are men like you leading the way in this part of the church that has been sorely neglected the last century.
Alex Humphrey said…
this is to set up the email follow-up. It didn't give me the option with my last comment =)
Alex, the short answer to your question is yes. While I cannot predict or guarantee (as much as I'd wish) that we'll do the retreat in May of 2012, the chances are very high. God-willing and if the Laity Lodge continues to be game, I'll be planning these retreats indefinitely. They're too close to my heart not to do so.

So glad to hear of your interest. Do you work directly with artists? In the church? Outside of the church? Other? I'd love to hear what you're on about or what you think a retreat like should consider as subject-matter.
Alex Humphrey said…
David, the best way to put it is at this time in my life I am a nobody. I do not lead a church (I just found a church home after a 6 month search) and the only people I lead spiritually are those in a small bible study I lead with a friend. I am not an artist. Well, I guess I am in a way, I love to write. But at the end of the day I am more of a studier and a thinker and businessman than an artist.

I want to be a part of things like this so I can write books teaching other thinkers how to encourage creators in the church. I want to teach pastors and leaders how to cultivate artists to love the gospel and their creativity.

I have many artist friends and I see them continually left out in the church. This leads them to think that their gifts and talents aren't wanted by the church or by God (at least not in any way that's helpful to the greater body of Christ).

I see things like the old hymns where the greatest poets and theologians would work the English language to create masterpieces. And then I put that up against today's Christian music which (for the most part) revolves around 20-somethings with a surface level understand of the gospel writing music about (sometimes un-biblical) responses to their surface level emotions, and older Christians simply re-working hymns. What changed in a hundred years? I honestly believe this stems largely because the church as a whole views creativity very lowly. This is unsurprising since most pastors aren't creative types, they are thinkers and readers. I would like to see this change and in reading your blogs and seeing interviews you've done I honestly believe you and those around you could give me a greater understanding of these things.

I hope that makes sense! Let me do one little bit of clarification and say that I love the church and believe that we need thinkers and readers to lead our people (God delivered his revelation to us in a book!) But still, this is an area that is lacking in the Church and that saddens me.
That's great, Alex. Thanks for sharing in depth. It's always encouraging to find folk like yourself out there.

I look forward to having our paths cross at some point.

Blessings to you.
Thomas Cogdell said…
Quick update Brooke - the Cogdell kids are lovin' Brooke's music. And at least one parent as well, thanks for alerting us to such a wonderful artist.

Grace to you from Jesus ...
Younger Cogdell family: lovin' it!

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