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The ancient Celtic Christian abbeys produced beautiful illuminated manuscripts, the most notable being The Book of Kells. In his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill credits Irish monasteries with rescuing ancient texts, recopying them, and then taking them back to Europe to replace the texts burned during the barbarian invasion.
But churches and Christians today are finding new ways to use the arts to “save civilization” or at least individuals in it. Our church was featured in Outreach magazine in December 2006 for helping sponsor Soundcheck, a teen open mic night in our community. You can read about Soundcheck and other arts programs we have in the Our Church tab at the top of this blog.
Leadership’s latest newsletter spotlighted an arts program that is saving 600-at-risk kids, and helping them give expression to their creativity. Sketch is an arts program in Toronto with sponsor partners made up of Christian churches, individuals, and other organizations.
This is part of the church-as-abbey concept springing up all over North America. Based on the ancient Celtic Christian abbey, churches are becoming modern-day abbeys in their own communities. The great thing is that size doesn’t matter — small churches particularly can become abbey churches and impact their communities in new ways.