Performing arts

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Steve Bell

Steve Bell's story serves as an invitation this season of repentance to reflect on how we turn toward God and our fellow creatures. Photo courtesy of Steve Bell

Gretchen E. Ziegenhals: This Lent, turning again and again to God and one another

When a church turned away from musician Steve Bell and his family, inmates at the federal prison where his father was a chaplain turned toward them, welcoming their brokenness and helping Bell discover a gift from God and a vision for what church can be.

Sanitation workers discuss their protest with the mayor of Memphis in a musical based on the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, “Union: The Musical.”  Photo by Alex Maness

Creators of a new musical pursue healing and reconciliation

“Union: A Musical” tells the story of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike. But its real purpose is to spark a conversation about racial and economic justice in the communities where it is performed.

Black and white photo of woman directing a church choir

Harriet Ziegenhals was an organist, singer, pianist, composer, arranger, teacher and the founder-director of the Community Renewal Chorus, part of a faith-based Chicago mission agency that advocates for social and economic justice. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Ziegenhals

Gretchen E. Ziegenhals: Learning leadership through the metaphor of music

Years of watching her mother direct a chorus taught the author that leading a diverse community requires radical acceptance of all people, careful listening and a clear vision.

Scene from a stage play

Ryan Scramstad, Robert Salvador and Andrew Wheeler perform in Pacific Theatre's production of "The Rainmaker," directed by Ron Reed.
Photo by Emily Cooper, courtesy of Pacific Theatre

Ron Reed: I'm a Christian, but I don't do Christian theater

The founder of Pacific Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia, talks about leadership, the arts and what it means to put on plays that ask spiritual questions from a Christian perspective.

Scene from The Barber of Seville at the St. Louis Opera

In this scene from "The Barber of Seville," Christopher Tiesi is Almavivia, Emily Fons is Rosina and Jonathan Beyer is Figaro in Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ 2015 production.
Photos by Ken Howard

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis connects people through art

At a time when opera struggles with declining support and an aging audience, it is thriving in St. Louis. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is using innovative approaches to make the art form more accessible while being faithful to a broader artistic tradition.

The jazz communion during Labor Day weekend is an annual tradition at First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. The Rev. Bill Carter is a professional jazz musician who performs with his band, Presbybop. Photos by Jeff Kellam

Jazz belongs in church

A pastor who is a trained pianist discovered that he did not have to choose between jazz and Jesus -- and that the spiritual power of the creative, improvisational art form can be a tool to help his congregation experience God.

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