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New Westminster’s Virtual Festival of the Arts
    “Laundry Day” painted by David McKnight.
checkered tablecloths and decora- tive menu/program centrepieces, the Church Hall played host to a variety of artistic works and performances. The art was both for show and for sale—thereby becoming a fundrais- ing event as well.
Then along came 2020 and COV- ID-19. It looked like this year’s fes- tival could not happen, until one of the more tech-savvy members of our congregation proposed the logical and splendid idea of a “Knox Virtual Festival of the Arts.” It was going to happen after all!
The call to artists went out, and the organizers were gratified by the enthusiastic response. Artists sub- mitted their work to the festival in the form of text, images, video and audio recordings. We were able to celebrate the God-given talents of our members and the wider church community as they graced us with poetry, musical performances—both song and instrumental—paintings, videos, stories, photography, quilt- ing, stained-glass and even culinary
arts. Several members created photo collages of nature, emphasizing the artistry of God, which were reworked into slideshows set to music.
Festival-goers visited the Knox Virtual Festival of the Arts 2020 via a virtual art gallery that let them enter a different “room” for each category of art. Clicking around the festival as they chose, they could enjoy all 45 works of art and 60 minutes of performance content at their leisure. Upon seeing it, our spirits were lifted and again our hearts took flight. A slideshow presentation of festival highlights can be found at knoxnw. com/kfa2020.
The culmination of the week-long virtual festival was a live streamed celebration on August 29. The online get-together included a festival tour, additional vocal performances, and commentary from artists and view- ers. After a consensus of positive comments, we were delighted that a mere pandemic could not deter an- other successful Knox Festival of the Ar ts!
By Carol McMeekin, Ron Peate and Judy Sinclair, KFA2020 organizing committee, Knox Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, B.C.
Knox Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, B.C., held its second annual Arts Festival from August 22 to 29—virtually.
The idea for the festival originally arose from a Knox “Coffee and Con- versation” Group discussion in 2019 about ways to enliven our church life and allow our spirits to soar. In-
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iors who may be feeling isolated and lonely. The next week, I received a call from one of our members about an idea to start a House Church gathering in the outdoor courtyard at her apartment building. This weekly gathering is a rich time of fellowship, and we are beginning to discern how God might be leading us further to care for lonely and isolated people.
The idea of gathering in houses— or, in our case, a variety of outdoor environments—for fellowship and worship God is not new. In the book
spired, a group member suggested showcasing the variety of artistic tal- ent within the congregation, and thus the “Knox Little Festival of the Arts” was born.
Held in August 2019, the first Knox Little Festival of the Arts was an en- tertaining and uplifting event that gave the congregation an opportunity to spread their artistic wings. There was dance, music, song, art, poetry and even some novel crafts. Dressed up in an Arts Café–style with small four-person tables covered with
 “Evening on the Fraser” photo taken by Slobodan Mitrovic.
Emmaline Rathbun singing “Darryl is a Boy.”
Stained-glass eagle by Garry (last name withheld).
We thank God for the artistic skills given to us, and for the wonderful in- spiration produced by music, song, art, dance, poetry, photography, ar- chitecture—all the arts. They build our spirits, nourish our souls and bring us even closer to God. Per- haps your congregation would like to organize an arts festival? From our experience, we can guarantee more than just a small fluttering of the wings. It can bring a congrega- tion together, and perhaps even bring in others from the community who feel the joyful nourishment of spirit and soul.
Going forward, St. Andrew’s- Chalmers will continue to remain flexible and open to safe ways to gather. As the winter approaches, our outdoor gatherings may move to open-air garages or even covered parking areas with space heaters. While the pandemic has created many challenges for us, it has also reminded us of the impor tance to move forward with our mission of making disciples. In addition, we are experiencing the church, not as a building, a steeple or a resting place—but as God’s people.
    A veranda conversation with Barry and Lois Crane, Samira Kathy Banks, Bev O’Hearn and Marjorie Lampman partaking
Gebhardt and Betsy Convery.
of Acts, Paul describes the early church gathering in private homes due to the persecution of Christians.
in communion.
There are many benefits that come with meeting together in smaller gatherings. There is increased inter-
action among those gathered, and we have experienced increasing trust and a deeper sense of community.

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