Journey of Faith Christian Church in Ann Arbor, MI, has found creative ways to offer a wide range of opportunities to support their community.
Like many congregations, Journey of Faith offers resources like a food pantry, gently used clothing, extreme weather shelter, and school supplies, and more.
This spring, they decided to offer a new program, which would empower their neighbors in new ways.
As Journey of Faith’s homeless ministry coordinator Rose Marcum-Raugh explains, “Combining art and homeless challenges just seemed natural to me. I know so many artists who either can’t do anything with their art, or who use their art as a sort of therapy. I wanted to encourage and help these artists in different ways.”
The first opportunity to combine these passions of hers came at the grand opening of their Art on a Journey gallery in April. This event featured work by several local artists, all who were homeless or previously homeless.
Marcum-Raugh’s goal for this ministry is to both financially and emotionally support the homeless community.
At this opening, and subsequent monthly artist receptions, the artists keep 90 percent of the proceeds from their art sales, and the remaining 10 percent sustains the congregation’s homeless ministry.
She’s also seen Art on a Journey leave a visible impression on the artists who participate. “When [a featured artist] sold his first piece, you could see his self-worth go up a few notches; he couldn’t stop thanking me for giving him the opportunity.”
“There’s a real sense of accomplishment when they finish a piece, and the look on their face when someone else values it enough to purchase it is priceless.”
Now that the gallery is established, Journey of Faith is developing partnerships with local arts organizations, and using the gallery space they set up in their building to offer art classes as well as the time and space for local homeless artists to work on their own projects.
Through this ministry, Marcum-Raugh has found creative ways to bring new life and purpose into the small, aging congregation she serves. Formerly homeless herself, she reminds congregants of their homeless ministry’s necessity.
“Though I’ve been housed almost 10 years, I still consider myself part of the homeless community because we are one financial disaster away from being back there.”
To serve as a reminder of the power of art in this work, the gallery team has added a display case of rotating pieces to the church, and opens the gallery from 10-4, Monday through Friday.
As the program grows, Marcum-Raugh invites other congregations to work directly with our homeless neighbors to find ways to offer real hands up as opposed to only hand outs. “Even if it’s just a small step up, it’s something meaningful. You never know where it could go from the humble beginnings.”