Belmont Tower, Belfast
In the same venue as my last event, a singing workshop, I set up for something a little different. The room has large triptych windows on both sides and in the centre I arranged 12 chairs in a circle. These would soon be filled with 6 people sharing their testimonies, their chosen witnesses and a film maker to document the event.
I introduced my work explaining my intention to explore the possibilities of evangelism as an artistic methodology and my desire to create a fellowship of the faithless. Careful to be clear that it was open to anyone but the faithless refers to the desire that regardless of the beliefs of the group it would not be a fellowship centred around religious belief but a fellowship based on a belief or hope in art.
After introducing the outline for the day I asked whoever felt they wanted to share first to begin. As expected this led to an awkward silence but patiently we all waited until someone spoke. I will not be revealing the details of the other testimonies but I wanted to share with you that I found the event moving and emotional. This may seem strange after pointing out that the event was filmed for documentation and perhaps in time and with permission I will exhibit the work but I do not feel a blog is the place to do so.
In recreating a format most recognised when sharing stories of conversion to religious faith I found the same unity with this group that I had previously experienced before I left the Christian faith. We had a united purpose and it was this purpose among other things that we shared through artists testimonies.
In an earlier post (http://makingsomethingsmallhappen.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/artists-testimonies/) I shared the promotional information for this event, borrowing from 1 Peter 3:15 “always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that you have” I asked for artists to respond. After all 5 other testimonies had been shared I shared a story of the moment I knew art worked. It was when giving out the buns for Tract 4 when all the passengers who accepted began to talk and share stories that I first really felt a fellowship outside of religion could truly be possible.
The testimonies were followed by tea and cake and a discussion where I asked witnesses to share their thoughts and posed some questions to the group. This is definitely a format I will use again.
I will be continuing to facilitate events as part of the making something small happen project and will share themes and thoughts as they develop.