Bridging Division with Art

Thanks to Glenda Schnirring of St Philip’s Lutheran Church, Hastings, MN and the St Paul Area Synod for sharing this Great Idea!

In January 2022, St Philip’s received grant funds from the St Paul Area Synod’s Gleaning from the Harvest grant program. The money came just as a ‘contentious school board election…[gave] life to the issue of living in a diverse community’. Tensions were high in Hastings.

After seeing the grant appeal, St Philip’s reconnected with a local artist who had come in to do a live drawing during worship and their local arts council – and the dream took on life.

Schnirring writes, “The title of the grant would be ‘Drawn to the River’. The original painting would happen on the shores of the mighty Mississippi under the canopy of the city’s beautiful riverside pavilion in a Minnesota river town… The painting would be 5’x6′, focusing on the city’s history, some landmarks, and its story about cultures living on its shores before Hastings’ founding.”

The creation of the painting was to be public. Invitation went out on the airwaves, internet, local papers, and TV stations – which also covered the event. St Philip’s worked with Hastings Family Service to house the final creation. It was a fully communal experience and expression.

Read the full article to discover more about the far-reaching implications of this one art event.

How might a community art project help your community heal, develop empathy, discover buried historical truths, and bond over existing realities? Who might you partner with to create such a wide-reaching event? What current tensions might be engaged and addressed by inviting conversation, learning, experience, and artistic expression? How might your spiritual community become a source of healing, growth, and joy for your broader community through community art?