LL ooking to win souls for Christ through art and community service, Epic Church opened an Urban Center of Influence (UCI) on Monday, July 27 in the Wicker Park suburb of Chicago. At the core of the new center, is the Epic Art House, which is an art and cultural center which offers art classes, as well as exhibition space for local artists.
“We want to bridge the gap between the church, as we know it, and the community,” said Epic Church Pastor Andres Flores. “We’re in a terrible time of crisis and we want to offer a place for people to experience healing, creativity and community.”
Although the art experiences may be what will bring people in, Flores says that art is merely the vehicle they are using to build a connection with camp goers and Wicker Park/Bucktown residents. Aside from the art, the center plans to be intentionally active in the community through programs such as a food distribution for the less fortunate, health clinics and educational and wellness classes.
Since opening, the center has hosted the first two of four week-long summer camp sessions and is currently finishing its third week. During these initial weeks, the Art House staff has focused on getting to know the newcomers and establishing relationships with them. According to head art instructor and Epic Church member, William Jamieson, students ranging from ages 8-12 have participated in various types of arts such as painting, drawing, ceramics, printmaking, and fiber arts. Eventually, classes will be available to all ages.
“We wish to reach out to our community, to build relationships, create trust and good standing within our community, provide a variety of healthy, safe alternatives to the harm and distrust that many have experienced in the neighborhood,” Jamieson said. “Our mission ultimately is to win souls for Christ.”