Creative Journeys in Prayer

Friday 20 to Sunday 22 October 2017

The Hayes Conference Centre
Swanwick, Derbyshire, DE55 1AU

This event has now taken place, but these details remain available for the time being for reference.
Next year's festival will be 19-21 October 2018 at High Leigh – book the dates now.

This year’s festival programme celebrates the wealth of talent we already have among our membership. All leaders for the weekend are not only ArtServe members, they are also experts in their own creative fields. Come with us on a journey to explore your own creativity, and help others to do the same.


Join us for a weekend of imagination, discovery, fellowship and prayer

ArtServe is a creative, mutually supportive community of people longing to help each other release their creative gifts so that God may be more fully known and lives transformed.

We invite you to come and share your own creative gifts, and experience those of fellow members as we explore together how we may use creativity to deepen our prayer lives and help others to do the same.

Our weekend will be structured round the theme of a journey and has been planned with three aims in mind:

  • To nourish the creative spirits of all our members, particularly those who find little support or encouragement in their home situation or ministry
  • To enable us to learn from and share with each other in community
  • To come away with something – an idea or an insight – that we can use once we are back in our own churches and daily lives. 


We ask all who are attending to bring something with them that inspires them to pray – something they will be willing to show to others and talk about in the small groups on Friday evening.

Artist and board member Anita Collier will lead us in a creative activity that will give a structure to the weekend. Anita is no stranger to leading sessions at festivals – she is a regular at Spring Harvest where she paints, leads workshops and inspires delegates of all ages.

Our chaplains for the weekend will be the Revd Nick Young and Pauline Munns, who is also our our prayer coordinator. Nick will lead the optional prayer walk on Saturday, and will lead our main worship celebration on Sunday. He will be available at any time over the weekend for anyone who wishes to talk or pray. Pauline will also be on hand for pastoral support and prayer.

Jacqui Hicks and Jo Kay will facilitate a session on using the labyrinth as an aid to worship and there will also be opportunities to discover worship through dance, music, painting and creative writing. Other facilitators include Jo Richards, a member of the Christian Dance Network, and Kate Austin, artist and author.

The programme

Friday 20 October

Arrive at The Hayes from 4.00 pm onwards, to register and settle in your room.

At 5.30, we meet in small groups to get to know each other and share our expectations for the weekend. Everyone will be invited to bring something from home with them – something that inspires them to pray – so that they can show it and share ideas with the other group members.

All groups meet together for dinner at 6.45. After this, Anita will reveal to us what the first stage of our journey will be. There will be time for making music and worshipping together before we disperse to our rooms or to the bar.

Saturday 21 October


We start the day with (optional) morning prayer, followed by breakfast.

After this the day will be divided between sessions for everyone, during which Anita will continue guiding us through our journey of prayerful creativity, and smaller groups where you can choose which creative activities are most helpful for facilitating your own prayer life.

The aim is for everyone to have the opportunity to engage in at least two activities of their choice, so we are asking you to pick four activities and rank them 1–4 in order of preference. This will give us an idea of how to schedule activities in order to allow everyone the best possible experience, and whether some sessions need to be run twice. The earlier we receive this information, the more likely you are to be able to participate fully in your preferred activities. Your options

During the afternoon, we will break for ArtServe’s AGM. After dinner, you will be able to relax and enjoy watching another of our talented members, Su Hallcroft, perform Chosen, her one-woman play about Mary. There will then be a chance to ask her some questions before repairing to the bar.

Sunday 22 October

Once again, optional early morning prayer is followed by breakfast. We then divide into small groups to prepare for the closing worship. After a break for coffee, Sarah Middleton (consultant to the Methodist Modern Art Collection) will talk about how we might make use of image in worship. There will also be time to finish our creative activities.

The climax of the weekend, our closing worship and celebration, will take place after lunch and we will be ready to depart around 4.00 pm.

Our leaders for the weekend

The following people will lead and facilitate the weekend. For the optional activities, the title of the activity follows the leader's name.

Anita Collier

Anita Collier

Artist and board member Anita Collier will lead us in a creative activity that will give a structure to the weekend.

Anita uses a variety of media to produce her own artworks. She also leads workshops encouraging others to express creativity as they explore and engage with the process. She works with people outside the church as well as within, hoping to pave the way for whispered truths to connect with the heart, and point to the Ultimate Creator.

Anita will lead us to complete simple, symbolic, creative tasks throughout the weekend. These will culminate in a personal item, reflecting various elements from the festival, which we will be able to take home.

You can find out more about Anita, and see some of her work, at www.anitacollier.co.uk. Her work has featured on the ArtServe Facebook page and on the cover of the Spring 2016 issue of ArtServe magazine.

Jo Kay and Jacqui Hicks – praying with the labyrinth

​Jo Kay​

Jo Kay is a Methodist local preacher and has been a member of ArtServe since it began. She loves labyrinths and will be facilitating the first of two sessions. This will be accessible for people with little or no knowledge of labyrinths, although others will be welcome too.

She will begin with a brief history of labyrinths, demonstrating how to draw a simple one for yourselves, and transferring this knowledge to designing and making a finger labyrinth using clay or cardboard and beads. You will be able to take this home to use in your personal prayers, or as a guide to meditation.

Jacqui Hicks

Jacqui Hicks is a board member, teaching assistant, Boys Brigade Captain and lacrosse team manager and coach. She will lead a practical session on creating displays to use with the labyrinth. Participants will use texts to inspire contemplative prayer, and use supplied images and found objects to create interactive stations around the labyrinth.

This session will stand alone, but can also link with Jo Kay's labyrinth work if participants choose to do both sessions. Creating the displays will enable you to use this knowledge to create a single display or multiple creations on a theme, when you return home. Displays will be left in situ for other participants of the weekend to use in prayer.

Nick Young – prayer walk

Nick and Barbara Young

The Revd Nick Young, who is also our chaplain for the weekend, is a minister in the St Albans & Welwyn Methodist Circuit and a former chair of the Methodist Church Music Society. He has been married to Barbara for 11 years and their combined family includes five children and four grandchildren.

Nick will lead a prayer walk, or mini-pilgrimage, around the grounds (gentle – anyone can come), or inside if the weather is too bad. We will reflect on words of scripture, look at what is around us and pray together. It should be a time to meet with God and find some inner peace.

Barbara Young – singing

Before retirement, Barbara Young worked as a music specialist in primary schools. She has been singing in choirs since the age of nine, and composes for various groups of voices. In her singing activity she will share some fun ideas and rounds for warm-ups, and explore music suitable for our worship on the Sunday.

Paul McDowell – making music with instruments

Paul McDowell

Sessions on making music with instruments will be led by board member Paul McDowell. Paul is organist at Wesley Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea, and an accredited worship leader there.

His musical activities include accompanying choirs and music societies, and students for music exams and festivals. He also plays accordion and piano with the folk and barn dance band The Famous Potatoes, as well as singing with a chamber choir in Upminster.

Jo Richards – worship through dance

Jo Richards

Jo Richards belongs to the Christian Dance Fellowship of Britain and has been involved in Christian dance and creative movement for many years. Jo trained in contemporary dance and ballet and has led many dance groups working with all age groups. She has found dance and movement are deeply meaningful ways to express faith and to worship God.

In keeping with the overall theme of the festival, those attending the worship through dance session will be able to explore various aspects of prayer in dance and movement. Music, songs and props will be used as stimuli. Participants will be given guidance but also will have opportunities to develop their own ideas. No previous dance experience is needed. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and footwear.

Kate Austin – pray and paint

Kate Austin

Kate Austin lives near Lincoln and is a mother, spiritual director/supervisor, and a counsellor. In her spare time she paints – you can see her work on www.christart.co.uk – writes (The Garden was reviewed in issue 13 of ArtServe magazine), walks, leads quiet days and retreats, watches funny films, and cooks quite badly.

Pray and paint sessions are contemplative and gentle, creating a space to explore our connection with God and express our response using a variety of creative materials. During the session we will listen to relaxing music and experience guided meditation. No artistic or spiritual experience is necessary – Kate will guide and support if and when needed.

Richenda Milton-Daws and Catherine James – creative writing

Richenda Milton-Daws

Richenda Milton-Daws, chair of ArtServe, edited our magazine for six years. With a background in publishing, she has over thirty years’ experience of working with writers and is now editor of The Reader.

Catherine James is an accomplished poet, and several of her works have appeared in ArtServe magazines. She read theology at Exeter and Lancaster, and has had a career in teaching. She is a Methodist local preacher, and on the committee of the Multi-Faith Centre at Derby University. Her interests include archaeology, travel, writing and the visual arts.

Read Catherine’s poem, Labyrinth (opens in a new window).

Sessions will include an examination of ‘what makes a poem’, but participants will also be welcome to write in prose if that is their chosen form. We will look at journeys in the Bible, journey as metaphor, and the emotional journeys travelled in some of the psalms as inspiration for our own reflections and writing.

Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

On Sunday morning, we will all have a chance to hear from Sarah Middleton. Sarah is a Methodist local preacher in the Cardiff Circuit and a freelance arts manager.

She has been a member of the management committee of the Methodist Modern Art Collection for a number of years, and is one of the ecumenical team that put together Creative Spirit. She will use examples from this resource to show how we might explore fine art images of the Christian narrative in leading worship and retreats.

Pauline Munns

Pauline Munns

Pauline will be assisting Nick Young as a chaplain, and will be on hand for pastoral support and prayer. She has recently taken on the role of ArtServe's prayer coordinator, which had been abeyance since Margaret Higson died.

Pauline Munns is a retired teacher now living in Salisbury, where she has started to develop a long-neglected talent for art.

At her local Anglican church she is a member of the PCC, sings in the worship group, and leads intercessions. She believes passionately in worship which engages every part of our being and is often frustrated that more is not made of the visual arts, dance and drama in worship. She believes there is a wealth of creativity in our churches that should be encouraged and used.

Your options

We want to ensure everyone has the best possible experience at this Festival weekend. When you book, please number in order of preference four activities you would like to participate in, with a small group, on Saturday. The options are:


  • Creative writing
  • Making music with instruments
  • Paint and pray
  • Prayer walk
  • Singing
  • Praying with the labyrinth
  • Worship through dance

The sooner you book, the more likely you are to be able to participate fully in your preferred activities.

If you play a musical instrument and would like to participate in the band, please tell us on the booking form which instruments you will be bringing.

For further details about these optional activites, please the section Our leaders for the weekend.

The venue

Creative Journeys in Prayer is at:

the_hayes_(paul_sheppard).jpgThe Hayes Conference Centre

DE55 1AU

The Hayes is an ideal, well-equipped Christian conference centre set in beautiful grounds. It offers comfortable modern bedrooms and extensive facilities including a residents lounge, sports facilities, games room, and bar, along with friendly, efficient staff. Complimentary wi-fi is available to all guests.

The Hayes is located in the Amber Valley near the peaceful village of Swanwick and has easy road links, along the A38, to the M1 just five miles away.



The all-inclusive cost of the weekend, including accommodation for two nights and all meals, is £200 per person for a single room or £180 per person for a shared room. All accommodation is en suite.

We would love more younger people to come: much-reduced rates are available for young people up to 19 years of age, and there is no charge for children under five. Discounts can be negotiated for groups. Please download the brochure for further details, or call 01666 824029 or 08456 210410 if you need any help.

You can also attend all or part of the weekend on a non-residential basis as a day visitor.

How to book

The best way is to book online book online. Members, please log in first to save entering your personal details. You can book online even if you pay by cheque.

To book by post please download the postal booking form. Please send postal bookings to ArtServe membership at 51 Blakehall Road, Carshalton, SM5 3EZ.

We require a deposit of £50 per person at the time of booking, with the balance payable by 30 September 2017. You can pay your deposit by direct bank transfer, by PayPal (using a debit/credit card or your PayPal account), or by cheque. To pay your deposit by PayPal, please complete the online booking form in the normal way and then click the PayPal button on the confirmation screen.

If you wish to pay the total amount at the time of booking that is fine, but please note we aren't offering PayPal as an option for paying the full amount.

Day visitors

Although primarily a residential weekend, you can attend on a non-residential basis for the whole weekend or any part of it. The cost for Saturday only (including lunch and dinner) is just £55. To attend the whole festival as a day vistor (including dinner on Friday evening) costs £125. For full details please download the brochure.

Further information

For further information please contact the festival organiser on 01666 824029 or 08456 210410.


Praying with our bodies – worshipping through dance