VineArts Ministry: 'I'm Talking with God as I Create'
BOISE, Idaho -- Jessie Nilo has been a passionate artist for as long as she can remember. She said it's a love she's longed to share with members of her Vineyard Church in Boise.
"I was going to college for art and as I was growing artistically, the chasm in my heart grew because I was growing spiritually at one location and growing artistically at another location and the two worlds never intercepted," she told CBN News.
"And so it left me feeling pretty frustrated because I could never talk about God with my art friends and I could never talk about art with my church friends," she explained.
In 2004, Nilo began thinking about starting a ministry for fellow artists at her church, but she admitted she didn't know what that would look like.
"I didn't know, so we could see how those two areas in our life could intersect," she said. "That's really all I had and maybe we could make some Sunday school posters or something."
Today she oversees a ministry called VineArts at her church, which includes an art studio and gallery.
VineArts encourages professional and amateur artists to explore and develop their God-given creativity through workshops and other hands on opportunities.
Budding artists from the ministry are often invited to participate in painting themes on the backdrop in the main sanctuary.
Nilo explained the art studio is a place of safety and spiritual growth with Jesus as the focus.
"The Holy Spirit has infinite creativity and we're tethered to His Spirit and He's going to increase our creativity as individuals," she said.
The ministry's art gallery highlights the work of artists from both inside and outside the church. It's purpose is to encourage people to reflect and contemplate about life and to worship God, the greatest creator of all.
Sherri Coffield said the art ministry helped her find healing from an abusive past. She now uses her painting skills to help others heal.
"There's something about doing art that really loosened these people up and they would start talking about their lives and their problems and then we can introduce the love thing," Coffield told CBN News.
"And so for me now when I create I'm more free in my art, but I'm having a conversation with the Lord as I'm creating," she added.
Nilo told CBN News, "It's a real feeding ground for creativity and people who are broken and shattered."
"Whether they're dealing with depression, addictions, or just grief, they find a lot of solace here and they can find that healing that caring people that they can just spend some time with when they walk in," she said.
The ministry was big draw for photographer Brad Keith and his wife Debbie, a former art teacher. The couple moved from California just to take part.
While the big emphasis on the arts is what inspired them to come, they said the spiritual climate VineArts provides is what affected them the most.
"We have Bible studies in here so this isn't necessarily just the arts," Brad said.
"When we got here and we saw the people, we saw so many creatives we just felt at home," Debbie added.
The ministry also appeals to the unchurched. Nilo said people escaping cults, New Agers, and pagan worshippers have visited the the art studio.
"A lot of times they'll end up checking out the church and going deeper that way with our discipleship," Nilo said. "And it's okay if they don't, too. They still have us and who else is praying for those people?"