Visual Art and Music
Music can move a soul and it is through that expression that worship, reflection and celebration deepens at CMCL. Music brings the spiritual message of worship to a new level, whether it be through the thoughtful choice of hymns to be sung or an original piece performed by members of the congregation.
The musical talent at CMCL runs deep… Perhaps it is the Mennonite heritage of praise through song, but whatever the origin, the worship experience can often be unforgettable. The genres move from classical to jazz to acoustic folk guitar to bluegrass from week to week. The voices and talent of the young are as important and meaningful to worship as the appreciation for the professional musical performance. What matters most is the soul from which the music emanates and the hearts that are profoundly touched.
For most of its 30-year-plus history, CMCL has embraced and celebrated the visual, musical and literary arts as a vital gift of the church. CMCL’s first pastor, Vern Rempel, espoused the arts as “the angel of CMCL.” Poetry, painting and music are some of the best ways CMCL knows how to communicate something of God to the world. They are like attending spirits among the congregation, radiating God’s presence. The congregation experiences the deep-running connection between vital spirituality and affirmation of the arts within its common life.
CMCL values visual elements of worship as an important expression of prayer and connection to the Divine. The building’s unadorned worship space serves as a canvas for seasonal visual worship environments. Each season a team of creatives develops a thematically appropriate display – ranging from simple and peaceful to monumental. The visual environment can be comfortable and familiar or surprising and stretching depending on the artist and theme. This, too, provides a reminder of God experiences. Visual environments over the years have included a bamboo sukkah, a giant spinning kaliedescope, large-scale charcoal drawings, and a contemporary stations of the cross: “Jesus’ Labyrinth Journey.”
In addition, the visual arts are celebrated with the 2009 opening of the Parrot Gallery, named after the church’s spirit mascot of sorts. The Parrot Gallery features rotating, two-month-long exhibits by CMCL artists. First Friday receptions, often with live music, welcome the public each month along with many other downtown Lancaster galleries. Over 35 different artists from the congregation have exhibited since the gallery’s opening. The gallery has become a meaningful way to share personal stories and journeys, and to support people at all stages of artistic development.