“Interfaith Art Show in Canada Helps Bring Community Together,” Liahona, June 2007, N4–N5
Sean Flint was a new member of the Church and a ward missionary, and he wanted to share his knowledge of the gospel with everyone in his city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. Brother Flint was aware that misconceptions about the Church existed in Moose Jaw and would make missionary work difficult.
“We wanted to do something that would attract attention to the Church and show that many of the misconceptions about the Church were not true,” Brother Flint said.
Brother Flint talked with the missionaries in his ward, and together they decided that the best way to share the gospel in a nonconfrontational way and reach out to the community and the more than 30 different churches would be to bring everyone together based on the one thing they shared—faith. Several ideas were considered, but in the end they decided that presenting a faith-promoting gospel art show was the way to go.
“One of the missionaries told me he had thought of showing some art at an art show sponsored by the Church,” Brother Flint said. “Eventually a lightbulb went off in my head. Wouldn’t it be nice to invite all of the churches of Moose Jaw to participate and show their own art?”
The idea was there, and within a short time the 2006 Gospel Art Show was born. With the help of the members of the Moose Jaw Ward and the missionaries, the word was spread and the plans were made.
Forty large color posters were created and distributed with invitations for members of other churches to display their religious art. More than 32,000 smaller versions of the posters were also distributed throughout the town by members, said Gerry Miller, ward mission leader.
Brother Miller added that the youth of the ward contributed as well. “The young men, under the direction of the Young Men president, Lorne Bachiu, built over 150 easels to display the art,” he said.
The local newspaper, the Times-Herald, printed an article about the upcoming show, and the local radio station, CHAB, also ran a story about it.
However, shortly before the show was to begin, Brother Flint was afraid it might not happen at all.
“Three days before the show we had received no responses from any other churches or nonmembers,” Brother Flint said. But after a lot of sincere prayer over the next two days, Saint Andrew’s United Church and 10 members of other faiths called to offer art.
The show opened as scheduled, featuring more than 140 pieces of art in six different categories. Missionaries were on hand to answer questions visitors had and to give out information about the Church to those who requested it.
While the turnout for the show did not reach the hundreds, Brother Flint accomplished what he wanted, which was to bring the people of Moose Jaw together and share the gospel in a friendly way.
“There was no confrontation of any kind. Everyone just seemed to feel the Spirit. It was a great experience,” Brother Flint said.
Vicci Spicer, who loaned the show her antique Tibetan wood replica of a Masonic temple, which dated back to the 1500s, said that she was grateful for the opportunity she was given to participate in the art show.
“Usually, since my faith is Judaism, I’m not invited to religious art shows,” Ms. Spicer said. “I met many wonderful people and saw beautiful pieces of art, but most of all I found friendship within the Mormon Church.”
Although it is not certain if the art show will become an annual event, there is support from the community to hold another show.
“Saint Andrew’s United Church loved the art show. They thought it was a great idea and suggested that their church would be a great location for the show next year,” Brother Flint said. “All of the people who visited the show said they would participate in it next year and tell their friends about it.”