COFFEE TALK TUESDAY | Renaissance | Decatur IL Churches

On pretty much every Sunday morning, you can find me at my second home... my church, Renaissance.  On most of THOSE Sundays, I will have a camera in my hand capturing moments from the morning.  It is a unique experience for me because it takes me into a place where I am familiar, yet unfamiliar, because everyone's reason for being at church is different and can evoke a different emotional response.  It's a time where I have to find the balance between visualizing the emotion behind the moments while being sensitive to the subject within the frame at the time I snap the shutter.

Let me back up a bit for those of you who are thinking, "Renaissance?  Where the heck and what the heck?!"

Renaissance is a church plant which birthed from Life Foursquare.  Located in the downtown Decatur area just down the street from the Avon Theater, Renaissance lives out their truth which is that they have a heart for the city IN the heart of the city.  They strive to be a comfortable space for the "un-churched" and "de-churched" of Decatur and a place where they will be accepted for who they are, just as Jesus accepted all who of whom He came in contact.  The mindset behind why Ren does what they do?

Growing People Change

Loving People Serve

Because of Jesus

So now that there's a little more background, I will get back into why I chose to make my coffee talk Tuesday about my shooting at Renaissance.

My good friend and the creative director at the church, Laramie, asked me back in August of 2016 to photograph a service.  Not really knowing what I was getting into, I agreed because I had been wanting to ask if I could do it anyway.  I don't feel like myself if I don't have a camera in my hand -- it's an extension of me and a huge part of my passion to document life as it happens.  If it was socially acceptable, I would literally carry my camera with me e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.  But, I digress.  Laramie had stated at some point after the initial conversation and now that she had wanted to ask me to do it for some time but hesitated because photography is my business.

My response?  If it wasn't for Jesus, I wouldn't have the gift to document life in the way I do to evoke the emotions I capture through a frame... so it makes all the sense in the world to me to give back by volunteering my time on Sundays to say thank you to Him.  And it is SO true.  I know that every time one of my images gets used in a post on social media that it is impacting at least one life.  Maybe it reminded someone to pray about their struggles, our church, or maybe just maybe it led someone to Jesus.  Knowing I can play a part in impacting someone's life in such a way is mind-blowing -- and it blesses me a great deal.

“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was
given you by prophecy when the council of elders
laid their hands on you.  Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
-1 Timothy 4:14-15

Most people that are in my current "life chapter" may not know that I was not raised in church.  My first church experience that I remember was in the summer of 1995.  In my childhood home, we had a small church in our backyard.  I would look out my window at the big red neon cross atop the roof and wonder what all of that was about.  One day I remember seeing a bunch of really colorful signs and kids playing outside.  I asked my mom if I could go and see what was going on, and she said it was fine.  So, I walked myself to the church and saw "Vacation Bible School".  I signed myself up and off I went for the whole week.  It was SO much fun!  But, once it was over, I didn't continue to attend.  I am remember going to church on occasion with friends but nothing ever stuck.  I finally found my place in church in 7th grade when several of my friends invited me.  I stayed there for 5 years until I went off to college, where I faltered again.  I eventually found my way back for my last three years of college, and I felt SO at home.  I even worked with my group there -- the Wesley Foundation at SIUC -- to work on their Web site, their email newsletter and other graphic items that came up.  Once I graduated, my husband and I moved up to Champaign area where we bounced around to different churches but never found home.  After about 4 years, we moved AGAIN back to Decatur, where we still floundered around finding a church, or simply just not going, for about three and a half more years.  

Enter Renaissance.

We were IMMEDIATELY greeted and shown around the church.  We were felt welcomed, at home, and completely comfortable.  The music was LOUD -- I loved it.  This place was setting the tone for a true attitude of worship.  I felt Jesus in a way I haven't felt Him in a long time.

I was finally home.  I even rededicated my life to Jesus at the 2015 Easter service, because I was impacted so heavily.  I felt the Holy Spirit move within me in ways I hadn't felt since I was a teenager.  I knew that this was where my husband and I would re-root our faith and raise our son to learn the Way, the Truth & the Light (John 14:6).

Documenting Sunday morning's is one of those ways that I can help others to see Ren in a way maybe they haven't before, or maybe in a way they haven't seen church done before.  Renaissance is a church after an artist's heart, which why people will see so much emphasis on the graphics, the video and the photo.  Art is one of the strongest and most impactful ways to delve into someone's life, someone's heart, and bring out the good, the bad, the ugly.  Art evokes emotions from people they did not realize were possible.  

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of
daily life off of our souls." -Pablo Picasso

Being one of the photographers at Renaissance has changed my life in so many ways.  It has brought out a side of my photography in my business that I didn't know was there.  I have felt God bless my business in so many ways since I started this "life chapter", and I am so excited to use my gifts for good in the coming days, months and years and continue to bless those around me.  I am part of such an AWESOME, loving family who comes up with such cool ways to do church, like shutting down a street for Easter!

I don't say it enough... I love what I do.