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Creative juices flow at Worship Arts conference in Melbourne

Speaker Major Brad Watson presenting on the Saturday of the Creative Arts Conference.

What happens when you put brass players, singers, visual artists and multimedia specialists together in a prison? Sounds like the beginning of a spectacular musical number. When The Salvation Army’s Worship Arts team did just that, what they got was inspirational.

Over 90 attendees gathered at Melbourne’s historic Pentridge Prison Arts Precinct from 21-23 July to learn how best to utilise worship arts to build community engagement and create faith pathways. The event resulted from a collaborative effort between Social Mission, Community Engagement and individual corps.

Worship Arts Coordinator for Community Engagement Jason Simmonds said the event was already garnering positive feedback from attendees keen to learn more.

“We primarily wanted to inspire and mobilise creatives within The Salvation Army to utilise their art, their craft, their music [and] their creative practice in missional ways, and I think we achieved that,” he said.

Performers Andrew Naylor and Tania G leading worship at the conference.

Jason said the conference also allowed for networking opportunities following the isolation of COVID-19 and brought together creatives from various backgrounds and skill sets to reimagine what integrated mission might look like in a post-pandemic world.

“The vehicle of the arts is the perfect way to raise the profile of the mission of The Salvation Army to care for people, build healthy communities, work for justice and create faith pathways,” he said.

The conference featured presentations from new and emerging creative minds, as well as paying homage to the creative history of The Salvation Army. Melbourne Salvation Army Museum Manager Lindsay Cox gave a presentation on the theatrical history of The Salvation Army in Australia through the work of the Federation-era Limelight Department.

Other presenters included Music Give Life co-founder Andy Horneman, Head of Community Engagement Major Brad Watson, UK Mission Partner in Music and Creative Arts Daniel Elson and co-authors of ‘Walking with Communities’ Ian Campbell and Alison Rader Campbell.

Conference delegates enjoying lunch together.

Alongside these presentations was live music from guest artists Tania G, Andrew Naylor, Alinta Burnell and Melbourne Contemporary Choir. The conference also featured a presentation on an Alzheimer’s friendly choir titled ‘Singing by Heart’, which sparked great interest from delegates.

In addition, the event had presentations from dance, poetry and spoken word artists. The Just Brass team held workshops featuring musician and educationalist Sue Wedding alongside a live podcast recording and creative arts therapy presentation.

Songwriter and Worship Arts Coordinator Daniel Casey attended the conference and said he believed the nature of content being produced by creatives was a vital sign of church health.

“I think revival is always led by the creatives,” he said.

“This conference has been a beautiful reflection of different creative arts and expressions all coming together as one in unity and purpose.”

To learn more about the conference and Community Arts Engagement, visit


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