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Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:01 am

Lasting faith

Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield celebrates 20 years

Kiddish Cup by Joy Stember, Abington, Pa.
The Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield is going strong after 20 years.

That’s a feat for any nonprofit. That might be called a small miracle for a diverse group of people trying to arrange a week-long slew of events.

But where there is faith, there is fortitude.

And the LAFS, a Springfield interfaith group consisting of local clergy, artists and volunteers, has a keen interest in bringing artists from all over the country and different faiths, cultures and traditions together to our city to share their expressions of the divine. Along with area churches, businesses and individual support, LAFS has sustained this biennial festival and made it what it is – an uplifting sharing of the visual and performing arts.

Board member Elaine Birtch says the celebration is “not to spread dogma or doctrine but is strictly about the arts.” It is about witnessing the artistic expressions of others and as with all song, creative word, dance or artwork, hopefully being moved in some way by it.

This year’s festival takes place May 3-7. It includes nine free events at various locations around Springfield. Every event is free and open to anyone of any religion (go online to to see a full version of the schedule).

There will be sacred songs that will ring out from the carillon bells played by Robin Austin and the sweet jazz notes of one of Springfield’s favorite pianists, Jane Hartman, who will be playing with other talented locals. The Capital Chamber Singers will perform and the popular Heritage Ensemble of Peoria will belt out African-American spirituals at First Presbyterian. There’s also a fabulous juried art exhibit at the Springfield Art Association. The month-long display has a multitude of faiths represented with artists’ work from around the U.S., including the works of a few locals. (See a feature in the Calendar, p. 29.)

“Christ, Mary and John the Baptist” by Paul Jurgens of Springfield is on exhibit at Springfield Art Association.
Festival founder Thom Dennis will speak at the art exhibition opening at the SAA on Saturday, May 3, when past presidents and the first board of directors will be acknowledged. The first board was organized in 1994 and the group founded in 1995. An awards ceremony will also take place.

A closing celebration will be held May 7 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Short readings and songs will include “prayers of thanksgiving” from a multitude of spiritual faiths, according to LAFS’s board president Sally Schaefer. Besides the Christian faith, there will be representatives from Buddhist, Muslim, Native-American and other faiths. Schaefer adds that you’ll even hear Tibetan bells.

Other highlights of the evening include Roosevelt Pratt on drums with a host of African drummers and the ethereal and uplifting music of David Tell on the Native-American and Japanese flutes. Attend the closing reception and view objects of devotion from area churches and individuals. LAFS’s award-winning DVDs, Architecture, Four Calls and Through Emily’s Eyes will also be available to view.

If you are interested in supporting, participating in or volunteering for the LAFS or to learn more about this organization, visit their website at


CLICK HERE for the 2014 Liturgical Arts Festival Schedule

“Not Enough Plowshares” by Jeff Boshart of Charleston, Ill.
Batik Banner from the 2012 festival.



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