On a Sunday evening in November, as you walk into the sanctuary of Living Waters Lutheran Church in Ringoes, a piano begins to play, but as the singing begins, you may notice a change:
“I just came to port,
but I’m a little unsure
where to go now.
I’m a little bit jaded,
everything’s a little faded,
in this new town.”
At the piano sits Jo Stones, an up-and-coming musician in the Mercer County area, singing about heartache, the struggle of living in a new place, as well as relationships in all their phases. A crowd of many ages, some from Living Waters and from their surrounding community, sits and listens, sipping drinks and enjoying refreshments, and enjoying the music. The piano rests where the altar sat earlier that day. This is a ministry called “In the Artist’s Studio” that began about three years ago with the opening of the congregation’s building being finished. With a thriving music and art scene in the Hunterdon county area, Living Waters sought to be good stewards of their building, sharing it with any artist who wanted to use the space for presenting or performing. Music from classical to pop, rock and blues echoes in the sanctuary, giving musicians a chance to perform for fans and music aficionados to learn more about those up-and-coming. And it isn’t just music; other artists have used this space to show their work. Painters, glassblowers, woodworkers, potters, and even weavers have shown their trades. Everyone seemed to have a favorite:
A weaver named Lura Trosello, who could spin different kinds of hair and fibers into wool and use in her projects.
A painter named Teresa Browngold, who would paint people who were dealing with different health issues, including some in hospice. Using their stories, she would create amazing paintings of them. When they died, the colors in the painting blurred.
The group of musicians and poets from Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (The SHARE project poets and the FunkTASKtics) who told stories, sang, played incredibly music, and helped others to see their perspective.
So why do this? Over and over the refrain came up, “Our space is part of our ministry. We want to share it with anyone who can use it,” said Terry Welsh, member of Living Waters. It provides a way for their community to interact and learn more about the many musicians and artists in their area, and helps the congregation to lift up these incredible gifts. For musicians and artists like Jo Stones, the opportunity to perform and share is welcome, especially when there are no real costs.
In the end, sharing the many gifts that God has given us helps to strengthen, grow, and build up our community. This generosity, one of our Synod’s core values, shares God’s mission and work in the world, whether it is with our finances, our time, and even our spaces.
Find out more about Living Waters Lutheran Church: www.lwlc-flemington.org, or like their Facebook page