When the B.C. government slashed arts funding several years ago, a group of Christian artists in Delta, B.C., saw “an incredible opportunity to serve our community as well as use the gifts God has given us,” says Imagine That coordinator and instructor Janet Priebe. “We wanted to see more arts programs in our community, and felt called to jump in and do it.”
Now in its third year, Imagine That is a one-week summer arts camp training children aged 3–12 in animation, culinary arts, dance, drama, music, painting, sewing, and more.
“We took a leap of faith and were blown away when it filled up,” Priebe says of the first year, and it’s been going strong ever since. Now, when Cedar Park (MB) Church elder of children’s ministry and the program’s “heart and soul” Brenda Breuls distributes flyers and posters in the community, she’s “warmly received.”
Breuls puts value on high-quality instruction and materials, so the program comes with a $125 price tag. Instructors (most are trained educators as well as professional artists) are paid. Through donations from church members and a local arts initiative, scholarships are available so cost will not prevent any child from attending.
Breuls is “keenly interested in making Imagine That a positive experience for all kids,” so she musters extra volunteers to support children with additional needs
due to disability.
Held at Cedar Park, Imagine That is strongly supported by the church, which “not only lets us use the building, but funds us with start-up costs, volunteers, and prays for us,” says Priebe.
Imagine That fits with “our vision to reach out in relevant ways into our community to address some felt needs,” says Cedar Park moderator Ray Saucy. “The elder board was thrilled it was offered not just to church people but for anyone in the community.”
“Our priority is to get kids from the community, not just church kids,” says Breuls. There is no explicit evangelism, but all the instructors are Christians and local artists who want to “give kids a taste of what it’d be like to be part of a Christian community.” She’s excited by how the program has given the church a positive reputation around town “as a place interested in them and their kids.”
Breuls takes an “integrated” view of the arts and God: “Being creative points toward God and his creativity in us.”
“We believe that everything we do is for the glory of God, including anything to do with art,” says Priebe. “Seeking to be authentic in our artistic expression, to honour God – that is our Christian content.”
“As artists, it’s our job to point people to God’s vision for their life,” says Breuls. She asks for prayer for the instructors who model lives shaped by God as they teach children art. Imagine That is dreaming of extending the program to other churches next year.