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For centuries, music has been an integral part of the worshipping life of most Christian denominations, not least the Methodist Church which was famously said to be "born in song". Church music relies almost entirely on live performers who often exercise a crucial role in worship. It was for this reason that the Methodist Church Music Society (MCMS) was formed in 1935.

From its origin as a group of organists and choirmasters, MCMS developed to support all types of music within the Methodist Church, and ArtServe continues to encourage the full range of music in worship.


This area of the website is for resources related to hymns and worship songs. For hymns written by members, go to Hymns in the Creative Writing area of the site.

This area of our website explores how drama and dance can be used to express or explore Christian faith. It includes ideas which everyone can join in, such as role play; the contribution of drama and dance groups to the worship and mission of churches; and news of professional productions with faith as a central theme. It includes script writing and story telling, but note that film comes under visual arts. Very often more than one art form is used at the same time (eg. music with dance and drama).


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Drama opens up questions rather than proclaiming answers. It illuminates the different viewpoints on a story, and engages young and old together.

Churches are using sketches, plays and pantomimes to engage people with the Bible and with the outworking of faith in everyday life. Christian theatre companies are touring thought-provoking productions and running workshops in schools and prisons. Here we share examples of these, and also signpost mainstream plays which take faith as their topic.

 

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Using drama in church life does not have to be a mammoth task, or involve a scripted play with a large cast. With preparation and care, the simplest pieces can communicate effectively. Here are some ideas drawn from members' experience.

 

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Around the world, and in many faiths, dance is used in worship. It can be fun, entertaining and educational. Why not invite someone of another faith background to your church to perform? ArtServe might be able to help initiate contact, ensuring a rich, enjoyable and challenging experience for your church congregation.

Dance is an excellent way to captivate and entertain an audience. But you can also encourage people in your congregation or invite members of the public in to your church to try it for themselves: dance can be an excellent way of exploring one's own spirituality through movement, with surprising results.

 

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Puppetry isn't just for children. Adults find a well crafted puppet show just as memorable, and just as much fun as children.

 

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The dramatic death and resurrection of Jesus is the heart of the Christian gospel. The tradition of the Easter passion play as a community performance staged in the public spaces of a town has seen a welcome revival. But smaller scale use of dance and drama can draw people into the story. Nativity plays need no introduction, but increasingly we are seeing alternative ways of interpreting or presenting the story.

 

Visual arts include banners and other types of textile art, painting and posters, sculpture, installations, worship centres, and flowers, as well as the whole area of film, photography and audio-visual displays.

These can all be used to inform or shape your worship and prayer experience, from bible studies and meditations to discussion groups. Here we offer a growing resource of ideas, reviews, recommendations and more.


The presence of the light

Paintings are not only for looking at: they can be used to inspire group discussion; as a focus for prayer, either on their own or linked to a display or installation; as a focal point in workshops to inspire other art forms; or to link parts of a sermon.

Have you considered using your church to host an exhibition of paintings with a Christian theme?

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Sculptures can be immensely powerful and moving works of art. For those with limited or no eyesight, the opportunity to touch and feel a sculpture can speak volumes. Have you considered using sculptures as centre pieces for your worship, or for a meditation?

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This area of the website covers installations, worship centres, sacred spaces, and labyrinths.

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Banner-making is experiencing a revival in UK churches. Here we offer tips and advice to all who wish to explore this art form.

 

Posters

Have you ever walked past a church and not even realised it was open? Have you caught sight of a striking poster that made you stop and wonder?

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Glass art includes stained glass in all its forms, fused glass and similar techniques.

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Flower arranging is a highly under-rated skill and often a source of strong debate! Here we would like to publish ideas and tips from experienced arrangers, with photographs and step-by-step guides to making arrangements for your church that will give pleasure to all who see them.

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Ideas for using film in church, suggestions for using film and TV programmes in discussion groups, and more. Good photography can be as poignant and as powerful as any other art form. You may already use images for meditation of as a focus for prayer. Have you considered hosting a photography exhibition in your church?

This area of the website is for those interested is in making creative use of the written word. There are inevitably areas that overlap, for example script-writing relates to drama, and hymn-writing relates to music. But creative writing is an art form in its own right whether the end products are liturgies, prayers, meditations, poems or stories. See also Hymns and songs in the Music area of the site.


Quiet moments in your day to reflect and focus your thoughts. Meditations published here will help you to do just that. Some will be for personal use while others may be more suitable for public worship.

Suggestions and a selection of prayers and liturgies.

This is where we publish hymns written by members. Unless stated otherwise, any hymn published here may be reproduced and used locally with due acknowledgement to the author. See also Hymns & Songs in the music section.

Poetry can draw our attention to things we hadn't noticed and challenge us to look below the surface. The work of some poets lends itself particularly to use by small groups looking at church life, community and prayer - think of the later poems of John Donne, the work of George Herbert, and TS Eliot's Four Quartets or Journey of the Magi. Most of the poems here were written by ArtServe members and unless stated otherwise may be reproduced and used locally with due acknowledgement to the author.

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These sets of notes, questions for discussion, and suggestions for prayer are designed for use by groups but may equally well be used by individuals. This is a resource for ArtServe members so login to see the full article. To print an article for use by your group click the PDF icon in the top right hand corner.

 

Books and magazines to whet your creative appetites. If you have suggestions or could to submit a review please get in touch.