Jackson UMC's Arts Ministry (JAM) is expanding with now over 100 students in attendance. Photo provided by Jackson UMC

Faith and Art Combine in Jackson

JACKSON – Art and faith come together in sweet harmony at Jackson UMC’s newly expanded arts ministry, called JAM. The church is no stranger to the incorporation of arts into their worship. Many in the congregation have a variety of creative gifts in the arts and about two years ago the ministry decided to put those gifts to good use by forming JAM.

The idea was the brainchild of Senior Pastor Joe Tiedemann. The goal was to offer a variety of classes to the congregation as well as to the local community who might not otherwise attend church.

“The overall concept for everything we do is designed to introduce people to Jesus Christ,” said Tiedemann. A committee was formed and the idea was put into action. Members of the congregation offered their time as teachers and a two-semester program of classes was created. The fall semester runs for 10-12 weeks and the spring semester for 15. Classes in art, cooking, yoga, photography, performing arts, and a variety of dance are offered for students of all ages, from preschoolers to adults. Most of the classes have a modest tuition fee ranging from $15 to $50 to cover supplies. There is also a suggested donation which is not mandatory but helps keep JAM running.

Megan Gallagher, who taught dance at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, teaches all the dance classes at JAM and is also on the committee. She says the program has had a positive response.

“The first semester we had a good turnout from the congregation. By the second, a lot of families who don’t attend our church regularly heard about our classes through word of mouth and the preschool program. The response was tremendous,” said Gallagher. “It’s a super neat that we were able to reach the community this way. People love the environment and the classes are really affordable.”

Attendance has now reached over 100 students. Gallagher stresses that all the programs incorporate Christ.

“These are art classes but they are all faith embedded,” she said. “We pray before each class. The dance and performance art classes use Christian music. This way people who don’t attend Sunday service weekly can still have a spiritual experience and get introduced to our church.”

JAM is more than just an arts program, it is an outreach program. Last year’s show “Bedtime Stories as Told by Dad,” was a big hit. This year’s performance will be a variety show which will allow JAM students to showcase their various talents. Students will choose songs and choreograph dance solos. Some plan to put on short skits or do stand-up comedy routines. The show is always the highlight of the year that all involved look forward to.

Registration is now open for next semester’s classes. These classes are offered one or two nights during the week as well as Sunday afternoons. Anyone interested in more information or to sign up is encouraged to visit www.JacksonAM.org.

To learn more about Jackson UMC, visit www.jacksonumc.org.