A faith community makes a space for the arts

The below article appeared in the Friday January 6 edition of the Entertainment section of the Lancaster newspaper. I thought I'd copy it to my blog for people to read. Enjoy the article. Veritas features exhibits, performances at Prince Street space

By JANE HOLAHAN Staff Writer

About two years ago, Ryan and Kimberly Braught decided to start a new faith community.

He was a youth minister when they left their old church and opened a center for worship above the Prince Street Cafe and the Julia Swartz gallery.

"I felt a call," he says. "We wanted to aid and serve people."

Part of Church of the Brethren faith in the Anabaptist tradition, it was certainly unorthodox to open a church above a coffee shop, but they wanted to have a different kind of church.

"We wanted to be really intentional about being a blessing," says Braught. "We believe in the idea of 'See a need, meet a need.' "

Veritas means truth. (The group is not related to the Veritas Academy, a Christian school.)

As that first year progressed, the Braughts began noticing a need within their faith community.

"We were connecting with a lot of artists and musicians; it was a growing network," Braught says.

"Musicians were looking for a place to play and artists were looking for a place to display their work," he says.

Emerging artists often have a tough time getting space, even in the culturally rich world of downtown Lancaster.

Why not do it at Veritas?

And so, last May, they began featuring an art show on First Friday and participating in Third Friday's music concerts.

"We figured it was a perfect space because it was right on Gallery Row," Braught says.

The space has a lot of purposes.

"Our faith community uses it on Sunday mornings and we often rent it out for parties or baby showers, things like that," Braught says.

While the work stays up on the walls after First Friday, the gallery is open by appointment only.

So far, Braught says, they've been getting a good crowd.

For some time now, Veritas has joined forces with Taste of the World, a group of people who've relocated to Lancaster from all over the world who are eager to share their cultural foods.

"We are in the front room with the art and they are in the back room with food from places like Egypt, Iraq and Syria."

But the group is taking a break this month and next, so there won't any exotic fare.

This First Friday will feature Candace Bergerson, who works in a variety of mediums, including painting and ceramics.

Much of her work has a bright pop quality to it, an explosion of colors. Even her ceramic pieces, which often have faces and a quirky quality to them, are cheerful.

Braught put out a call to artists on Craigslist and she responded.

"I looked at her work and liked it," he says. "We want to give newer artists a chance to build their resume, get their foot in the door."

On Jan. 28, acoustic singer/song writer Denison Witmer will perform. While he has been working more in Philadelphia these days, he is from Lancaster. He's been compared to Cat Stevens and Nick Drake and is known for complex finger picking.

And on Friday, Jan. 20, Veritas will open its doors for the Poet's Loft.

Like other Veritas events, it came out of a need for friends to express themselves.

Musician and worship leader Matt Wheeler met poet Miguel Rivera when they were both expecting children.

"They talked about bringing their music and poetry together and we thought, why not host them?" Braught says.

The evening, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m., will feature an open mic and poets and poetry lovers are welcome to read their own work or a favorite poem.

Veritas Arts Collective Art Show

Artist Candace Bergerson

Reception Fri. from 6-9. Free

Community Room on Prince

19 N. Prince St. (3rd floor)

Above Prince Street Cafe

285-1984. www.veritaspa.org

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/563033_A-faith-community-makes-a-space-for-the-arts.html#ixzz1ipPQufh2