We love Mondays at the Mission – paint, brushes, and inspiration images all meld together to provide a snapshot of what wholistic ministry and transformational healing can look like in the form of an art class. The Scott Mission’s new art class is an inspiration to us all. There is not a lot of teaching of technique; rather shelter residents and clients gather together in community and use art to express their feelings. It’s not about perfection – it’s about healing, finding peace and joy through self-expression, and building community.
“One of our shelter residents does caricatures – every week they already have planned who they are going to draw that session. Last week he drew me!” says Anier Bao, the staff member who coordinates the art groups each week.
Anier is part of a new staff group at the Mission, the Spiritual Formation team. From Bible Studies to special events to programs like the Art Group, this team is building wholistic ministry opportunities across the Mission.
“When I think about holistic ministry I think about the Bible verse: ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,’ (Matthew 12:30),” says Matthew Greenwood, Spiritual Formation Manager. “Our relationship to God and our spiritual health is connected to our mental, emotional, social, and physical health.”
The Art Group is about building community. Through it, we are deepening social connections with groups of our neighbours that are typically disconnected and could be suffering because of a lack of community. “Based on feedback from the members, the art program helps them reduce stress, connect with others, and bring joy to their lives, especially after the pandemic’s disruption,” reports Anier.
Kevin, from our Shelter Group, spoke about the group, saying, “I had a great experience. I gained perspective and confidence as an artist, furthering my pursuit to continue painting.” Another of our members said, “I am not an artist, but I really enjoyed the group because it brought me a lot of joy and peace.” “It opened the door [to] a hobby for me, and it fostered a sense of community filled with joy,” reported Anna from our Food Bank Art Group.
This upcoming week the Shelter Art Group is going on an outing: a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario. The AGO kindly offers passes to organizations like Scott Mission to share within their community. More than just a fun afternoon, the trip opens a space within our neighbourhood that can often feel inaccessible to those living in poverty. “I hope they’re inspired – seeing the artwork of others,” says Anier. “I hope we have fun!”
As the group continues to meet, the goal is to continue building relationships, offer support, pray for clients when requested, and to understand our neighbours a little more. Together, we hope to build connections that lead to transformation and growth for all.