Photography: A Language of Faith

August 20, 2012 - August 24, 2012
Offered by Five Oaks Centre
Paris N3L 3E3 ON

August 20-24, 2012

This program is being offered as a part of our Week of Creativity where four arts-based programs are being held at the same time. Our days will be framed by gathering in community with those from the other arts programs for reflection and worship. On Thursday evening we will gather for a \’Summer Celebration\’ where the general public is invited to share in the creative work that has unfolded during the week.

Description of the Photography program:

How do you find a common language that is inviting, welcoming, and affirming for those who are relatively new to Christian faith as well as for those who have been part of Christian faith since birth? How do you communicate the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth to those who are unfamiliar with Christian faith? How do you hear the messages that newcomers bring to a Christian faith community? The issue of communication – communication that is mutual and affirming of all who are part of our society is often a major issue in ministry.

In the past few years Richard Choe has been experimenting with visual images and poetry in small group conversations and in Sunday worship celebrations to seek and find vocabularies that facilitate and enhance communication amongst people with diverse histories and backgrounds with respect to the Christian faith. This is because in his experience traditional theological words, concepts, and images often complicate and even hinder conversations of faith and spirituality. There have been instances in his ministry where the study of biblical passages hindered conversations because each person – regardless of where they would place themselves on a theological spectrum, left, right, or centre – could easily get stuck in finding the “correct” way of interpreting the scripture. Are there ways to create a common language based on a variety of vocabularies from the people in our various communities? If so, how do we go about creating that common language?

Richard believes that the process of finding a common language through photographic images and poetry will foster Christian community in becoming more inviting, welcoming, and affirming for all. Such a process invites and encourages individuals in Christian communities to connect the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth from their own faith context and help build a common faith base for all.

Two ideas have been immensely helpful in facilitating the conversations:
1. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, for the process of helping people to make meaning out of their experiences and to connect with Christian faith rather than imposing traditional concepts onto them.
2. The Practice of Lectio Divina, for conversations that encourage participants to share what they hear through the heart.

During this program we will be connecting with the beauty of creation in and around Five Oaks through photography and conversations with self and with one another through spiral conversations.

We will cover the following areas over the week:

•Photography techniques, applications, and presentations. Everyone will be encouraged to take photos, process, and select the images for sharing each day.
•Connecting inclusive and life affirming spirituality and faith with images in worship celebrations and visual presentations.
•Exploring resources that promotes and facilitate connections with people from various socio-political backgrounds.
•Discovering beauty within and around.
•Utilizing various ways and means to process one’s spirituality: journaling, poetry, etc. …

The week will be filled with self-discovery in relation to nature and in spiritual community with people who are committed to finding beauty and the sacred in the ordinary. Please bring musical instruments, if you have any, to enhance in developing visual presentation.

Theme for each day of the program:

Monday, August 20, 2012
Theme: Kindness –
Lord, let me shake
With purpose. Wild hope can always spring
From tended strength. Everything is in that.
That and nothing but kindness.
(James Dickey, The Strength of Fields)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Theme: Grief –
You can never get enough of what you don’t really want.
(Eric Hoffer)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Theme: Language of Sleep –
. . . over this dream of life,
this life of sleep, we waken dying —
violet becoming blue, growing
black, black — all that
an iris ever prays,
when it prays,
to be.
(Li-Young Lee, Irises)

Thursday, August 23, 2012
Theme: Dreaming –
El sueño que no se alimenta de sueño desaparece.
The dream which is not fed with dream disappears.
(Antonio Porchia, Voices, translated by W. S. Merwin)

Friday, August 24, 2012
Theme: From Recklessness to Responsibility –
“Before we move from recklessness to responsibility, from selfishness to a decent happiness, we must want to save our world. And in order to save our world we must learn to love it – and in order to love it we must become familiar with it again. That is where my work begins, and why I keep walking, and looking.”
(Mary Oliver)

Who might benefit from this program:
This program is open to anyone interested in taking pictures, from beginner to advanced.

•Those who are looking for new or deeper ways of expressing spirituality. Lots of resources will be shared and participants are welcome to share theirs.
•Those who are participating in audio-visual presentation in worship celebrations. Teams from the same congregation would be a great idea, e.g. clergy who are looking for images for worship and lay leaders who provide technical support.
•Clergy and lay leaders who would like to have a better sense of choosing effective images in worship celebrations and in other areas of ministry.
•Individuals looking to learn more about photography. Some familiarity with a camera would be helpful; however, any skill level is welcome.
•Parent/child, partners, individuals and groups looking for ways to connect and bond will find the conversations and photography immensely helpful.
•Bloggers, writers, communicators of all types.
•Those in the publicity, communication, and media ministries.
Denominational staff who work with photographic images in their work.
•Anyone seeking fun and creative ways of engaging with this beautiful world of ours.

Leadership: Richard Chung-sik Choe is minister at Kingston Road United Church and has been photographing professionally for over 20 years. He shares his sense of beauty in and through worship celebrations, workshops, public speaking, and teaching photography as a spiritual practice.

Richard’s photography captures the sacred in the ordinary. Capturing Zen – zooming into the subject to capture the essence of its mood – would describe his photography technique. He believes that the essential task of a photographer is to connect the beauty within oneself with the world around. Art, a form of spirituality, is a process of discovering, discerning, encountering, and expressing the beauty experienced. Spiritual enlightenment is when harmony is experienced between the beauty within and the beauty around oneself.

He photographs for faith organizations and media agencies in and outside of Canada. His clients include the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its related agencies, the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, Sojourners Magazine, the United Church Observer, and other mainline denominations in Canada and the USA.

Richard also taught photography and spirituality through the United Church’s learning circles over the past few years. He taught a course to explore the intersections of faith and world through art, culture, and education – An Active Faith: A Certificate in Church and Community – a new Continuing Education program launched by Emmanuel College in 2011.

Richard is also a recipient of a 2011 Sabbatical Grant for Pastoral Leaders by the Louisville Institute, a programme that \”supports those who lead and study American religious institutions.\” He started his sabbatical in March 2012 to work on the theme of “Developing & Creating a Common Language of Faith” through photography and poetry.

View Richard\’s Blog at:

Categories: Programs  |  Spirituality  |  The Arts