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December 31, 2000: California church trailblazer for city's revitalization

December 24, 2000: New Jersey township retracts impediment to A/G congregation

December 10, 2000: Christmas stocking project brings hope, gifts to needy kids

November 26, 2000: A/G church looks to second half-century with founding pastor

November 19, 2000: Quest for souls occupies Christians during Olympics

November 12, 2000: Three ministers reaching their world

October 29, 2000: A/G Minister to ride to each state capitol, pray for nation

October 22, 2000: Art academy connects students with Creator

October 15, 2000: Columbine survivors share testimonies, hundreds respond

October 8, 2000: Graham conducts final evangelism conference

September 24, 2000: Independent congregation receives help from Lousiana A/G church

September 17, 2000: California ministry team breaking strongholds

August 27, 2000: Bold outreach touches hurting in Allentown

August 20, 2000: Baptist church gives A/G congregation its facility

August 13, 2000: Climbers conquer Kilimanjaro, help A/G

July 30, 2000: Chicago church, city partner to improve lives of women, children

July 9, 2000: New Mexico fires damage A/G families’ homes

June 25, 2000: God moves in Mississippi high school assembly

June 18, 2000: California skate park becomes 'teen church'

June 11, 2000: Convoy and partners team up to reach poor

May 28, 2000: Tornado damages A/G church in Texas

May 21, 2000: National Prayer Center ministry expands reach

May 14, 2000: Adventure, ministry on Pathfinder missions

April 30, 2000: Church reaching deaf students in Louisiana

April 23, 2000: 40-day fasts unite, renew A/G churches

April 9, 2000: Colorado church booms with bilingual services

March 26, 2000: Cell groups strengthen California youth group

March 19, 2000: Michigan church bounces back from brink of closing

March 12, 2000: A/G man holds world arm-wrestling title

February 27, 2000: A/G minister helps others get their wings

February 20, 2000: Former editor with Christ



Arts academy connects students with Creator

Janice Thompson, mother of four, has homeschooled her daughters for eight years. Her two oldest now attend college after graduating through the Homeschool Christian Youth Association in Houston. Though satisfied with the academic opportunities she offered her children, Thompson had concern about one lacking element.

Every year, Christian Arts Academy performs a drama for the community. This year’s drama, Zaney Muldaney, was a spin-off of Pilgrim’s Progress.

"There was no centralized location where homeschooled kids could study the arts," she says.

While searching for an answer to her dilemma, Thompson teamed up with Brenda Giere White, a director of a fine arts camp, who had a vision for a fine arts academy. With the help of other parents with home-, private- and public-schooled children and members of the arts community, Christian Arts Academy became reality five years ago.

Hosted by Lindale Assembly of God in downtown Houston where Randy Meeks is senior pastor, CAA has expanded to become a full-service school. But the emphasis remains the arts, particularly the arts as tools for ministry.

"We’re really into outreach," Thompson says. "We have ministry teams that go out. In fact, in order for our kids to be in the mime team that I teach, they have to commit to one Saturday a month to go with a group called Inner Cities for Jesus, which is a local missionary group that goes into the [subsidized government] housing complexes."

"After one outreach," says Courtney Hampton, 16, "I had the opportunity to pray with a little girl who had been abused by someone in her apartment complex. She gave her heart to the Lord that day and began to deal with the fear in her life."

Megan Thompson, 17, says she has prayed with numerous children as a result of the outreach. "Many have come to know Christ," she says. "On one occasion, I prayed with a little girl for salvation. She wanted me to pray that she would be used to lead her whole family to the Lord."

Pastor Meeks is supportive of the ministry. "There’s nothing more thrilling than to see a church campus full of the praise and worship of young people throughout the day every day of the week," he says. "It infuses a spirit and attitude of ministry. The church is busy and alive constantly, with the energy of people serving the Lord in an outgoing fashion."

Students meet in a warehouse across the street from the church for arts classes. Academic classes are held in the church’s family life center.

"A child enrolled full time has a sculpted program that is kind of like prep school for college," says White, CAA’s director. "If they choose music, for example, it includes music theory, ear training, strings ensemble, piano, music improvisation and other classes we offer." In this case, it would include creative writing and art. Tuesday and Thursday would focus on the arts classes; Monday and Wednesday, on academic courses. Friday would be a homeschool day with assignments students do at home.

White wants to continue refurbishing the warehouse and eventually perform Christian dramas for inner-city audiences on its lower level.

"One of our goals is to have an inner-city theater called Jubilee Theater," she says. "When we perform at the church, where we have a great stage and technical equipment, we can never run it more than two or three nights because of services. We’re constantly tearing down and setting up. So we need a theater."

Thompson heads CAA’s drama program. As with every element of the academy’s portfolio, drama classes direct students toward God.

"We take everything back to Genesis to the Author of creation," she says. "We tie all of the creative juices teens have back into creation. We focus on why God made us with this creative bent and what He expects us to do with that creativity."

— Scott Harrup


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