Unlocking the European Soul through Truth Revealed in the Beauty of Art
By Natalie Meeks
GREENVILLE, SC – If we want to impact European culture for the Lord Jesus Christ, we must learn the language of the European Soul. We must dig deep into its cultural roots, including art, and grapple with crucial ideas.
The European Leadership Forum, which took place from 20 May – 25 May, was a great encouragement and inspiration to more than 800 participants, including 6 leaders from Bridge Builders International. This invitation-only congress was held in Wisła, Poland.
The Forum gathered together evangelical Christian leaders from across Europe for specialized training, mentoring, resource sharing, and networking. Dr. John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and internationally renowned speaker on the interface between science, philosophy and religion, acted as keynote speaker, teaching alongside various other world-caliber speakers.
Participants attended 28 learning communities called Networks, which focused on such diverse areas as the arts, Bible teaching and preaching, outreach to Muslims, organizational leadership, church planting, science, counselling, politics and public policy, and discipleship.
The European Artist Network (EAN) was led by BBI President Chuck Kelley, with Natalie Meeks’ assistance in managing the six-month process. The EAN consists of 27 artists from 19 countries, all of whom are evangelical Christians of varying vocations, actively seeking counsel and encouragement in how to integrate their callings as artists and their faith in Christ.
We constituted a community of painters, musicians, singers, sculptors, writers, cartoonists, graphic artists, dancers, theologians, filmmakers, conductors, historians, pastors, poets and church planters… several of international renown. Utilizing these gifts, our artists presented art and music to the entire forum on two occasions with warm reception.
Each session began with engaging and relevant discussion questions and met with lively interaction, demonstrating the deep need Christian artists have to interact with one another, all the while yearning for a place to think deeply about the relationship between their faith, art, church and society. Network session talks spanned several topics: What is the relationship between Truth and Beauty? How can Art be a Bridge – not just for evangelism – but also for reconciliation and peacemaking?
Why do most great artists feel unneeded by the church? Why is there no place for them in God’s house? EAN Speaker and Symphony Orchestra Conductor Delta David Gier expressed that, “in all his years of experience in the arts and the church, he has yet to encounter any one great classical musician who feels that there is a place in the church for them.’” This is a tragedy. Likewise, because of the delicate nature of so many artists’ temperaments, we brought in specialists to speak on the topics of human emotion, relational wisdom and depression.
The Michelangelo of our day, Liviu Mocan of Romania, was a most impassioned speaker and participant. Liviu’s deep love for Christ ministered to hearts and souls as he expounded upon his own search to love God and love people in the stream of art.
What comes next? There is tremendous interest in the network to grow, not only in size but in depth and impact.
The church has seemingly decided that art isn’t important, but the soul of Europe is aching to be heard and understood. Art is the cadence of her speech. If we want to reach and nurture the culture for Christ, we must learn to speak it.