For Gina Hurry, founder and co-director of InSpero in Birmingham, Ala., arts ministry was not simply an idea for another church program, nor was it something she copied from another artist, city, or church. Rather, she said, it was something God birthed in her heart and the hearts of those collaborating with her.
InSpero, whose name reflects a combination of two Latin words meaning hope and inspire, is a ministry that offers monthly artist gatherings, retreats, workshops, special speakers, and soul care for creatives — a term Hurry uses to include visual artists, musicians, dancers, storytellers, ministers, and gardeners, among others.
This past spring, InSpero hosted “Hearing in Their Own Languages: A Pentecost Conversation on the Role of the Holy Spirit, Beauty and Artists in the Church” at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church. More than 40 participants created artwork during the event, including 12 from Oak Mountain. Hurry considered the occasion an easy way for the church to be part of something beautiful while loving strangers who attended.
Hurry had originally envisioned a ministry at Oak Mountain that could help artists find their voice and also be nurtured and well cared for by the church. As an artist, she also wanted to equip others to better understand their callings. The ministry has since expanded into the Birmingham community and, in 2013, was established as a separate nonprofit organization.
Hurry believes artists are agents of hope who have an important role to play in using their gifts. Art, she said, can help people see the kindness of God and believe heaven is real. She said God used the familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer, “On earth as it is in heaven ,” to ignite her desire to create opportunities for artists to see their gifts as an important part of building His kingdom.
While she is passionate about arts ministry, Hurry hesitated to say others should necessarily try to replicate the work of InSpero. Rather, she said, “I pray that pastors be aware of what God is birthing in the hearts of their people, whether that is for art, orphan care, injustice, or human trafficking.”
In addition to creating space to encourage artists in their callings, Hurry hopes to foster deeper understanding and support for creatives within the church. All too often, she acknowledged, the gifts of artists have been relegated to projects such as creating decorations for VBS or mission conferences.
“So many artists who have a heart for church and Scripture want to create to edify the church in some way, and their hearts are broken because there’s no place for them. Artists need community and connection. There is not a clear-cut place for artists in the church.”
In opening conversation between artists and the church, Hurry hopes each would learn to care better for the other. Forming relationships and being friends, she believes, would be a good place to start.
“We have a lot to learn from each other,” Hurry said. “Structured people need free-wheelers, and each other, and we all certainly need grace.”
For more information visit inspero.org.