Community, Creativity, local church

Creativity, Culture and The Church in Coventry

We have an opportunity. An opportunity that comes to a church once in a lifetime and one that could have an impact on thousands of people living in Coventry, the UK and potentially across the world. In 2021, Coventry is going to be the UK City of Culture.

But why is this an opportunity? Why should we, as the church, care about it? Well for starters, it is going to be fantastic for our city. Tourism will increase, jobs will be created, new shops and restaurants will open, and the city will grow economically (see https://coventry2021.co.uk/why-coventry/). Jeremiah encourages the exiled Israelites to seek the good of the City in which they find themselves (Jeremiah 29:7). God shows mercy and compassion to Nineveh saying, “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left?” (Jonah 4:11). I think we can safely say that God wants Coventry to experience his grace, mercy, provision and love. The City of Culture is an opportunity for that to happen.

But the opportunities don’t stop there. “The judges [of the city of culture bid] unanimously agreed that awarding Coventry the title would have the biggest impact on the rest of the UK. We are a young, diverse, modern city which is re-imaging the role culture can play in bringing people together.” (https://coventry2021.co.uk/why-coventry/). 2021 will see people flooding to Coventry from across the UK to experience what Coventry has to offer. Coventry is a city of peace and reconciliation. It is a city of welcome. It is a city of innovation and invention. As the church, these things should be ingrained in everything we do and hence we are some of the people who are best equipped to offer these things. Not the peace that the world offers, but the deep and lasting peace given by our Father in heaven. Not the shallow cease fires of the world, but the reconciliation that makes enemies brothers. We have an opportunity to show Coventry and the UK the Kingdom of God and show how the culture of His glorious Kingdom gives the truest welcome, the deepest peace and the greatest unity that we can experience here on earth.

So, what can we do? Well whatever we do it needs to start now. If we wait until September 2020, it will be too late. For the next 2 and a half years, there will be events happening in the runup to 2021. We need to be people that organise and deliver good quality events during this period, to gain the trust that we will need to run events in the year itself. So, what should we be looking to do?

First of all, we need to pray. Our greatest involvement in the City of Culture will be the hours that we spend praying for it. Praying for its success, for God to advance his Kingdom through it and to ask him what our individual and corporate involvement should be. And how will we, as the church, engage with this event? Primarily, we will need to engage with the City of Culture creatively. Take a moment to watch this video in which Jonny Mellor, the founder of the Sputnik Network of Christian Artists, argues why artists (from poets to film makers, dancers to painters, actors to rappers, and everyone in between) are so important in communicating ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=705&v=a2xGpbdXQtM.

In a nutshell, ideas from the academics of the day, are communicated to and taken on board by our culture through the medium of art. Through the songs that are in the charts, by the books and magazines people read, and the films and YouTube videos people watch, the art and media that we consume affect the way we think and the things that we believe. We need to harness the power that art has, to communicate the culture of the Kingdom of God.

This blog is a call to the creative and innovative people in our churches, to step out of your comfort zone and get involved in making art and running events that will impact our city in 2021. We cannot allow ourselves to miss the opportunity that lies before us and sit back and watch our involvement slip away. Let us make art exhibitions, organise concerts, start poetry evenings, create plays and perform them on the streets. Let us create installations, run events in our workplaces and schools, create dance shows and rap videos. Let us make art that subtly or obviously glorifies our risen King Jesus and demonstrates the truth of his goodness.

Let me encourage you to follow the City of culture team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube videos. Let me encourage you again to pray. And let me encourage you to get involved, whether you are creative or not, in whatever way you can and are willing. Let us make the most of the opportunity our Father in Heaven is giving us, and let’s work hard to make 2021 a massive success.

Questions to think about?

* How can I take the work the Church in Coventry has done on peace and reconciliation to communicate the peace, forgiveness and unity that Jesus brings?

* How can I use my creativity to communicate Coventry’s rich history?

* How could I use my business to support 2021?

* Can I start a business that would benefit the City of Culture?

* I’m not really that creative, what can I do?

* What events can I go along to and support?

* What can we do as a church and as the Church to make the City of Culture a success?

* What could I do in my workplace or school to help make 2021 a success?

Helpful Links

* Coventry City of Culture 2021 website – https://coventry2021.co.uk/

* Coventry City of Culture 2021 Twitter – https://twitter.com/Coventry2021

* Coventry City of Culture 2021 Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/coventry2021/

* Coventry City of Culture 2021 Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/coventry2021/

* Coventry City of Culture 2021 YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIpBngO0nn6_2NHH7HAjreg

* The Sputnik website – https://sputnikmagazine.co.uk/

Sam Myers

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