MARIETTA — Kerry Jackson is a creative artist who is able to paint beautiful works of art that truly stirs the soul. Those who see his paintings are inspired to visually experience God in a powerful way.
I have a 34” X 46” painting of Christ in my study at home painted by Kerry. When I see the portrait with Christ’s hand outstretched to me, it reminds me He is constantly inviting me to come to Him, follow Him, worship Him, pray to Him, and serve Him.
The painting has become a part of my devotional life. I look at the portrait of Christ and talk to Him as if He were in the room with me, and we have sweet fellowship together.
Kerry came to speak in our chapel at the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center several years ago and along with his message he painted the portrait. His presentation so touched my heart that when the service ended I went up to him and asked, “What do you do with your paintings when they are completed?”
“I don’t know,” Kerry replied. “I usually just take them home.”
“Would you consider selling it?” I inquired.
“Sure,” he said. “I’ll sell it.”
I had only $50 in my wallet. But, I told him I’d give that to him if he would sell it to me.
Atlanta mission work
That Wednesday I went home from the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center as the grateful possessor of the beautiful portrait of Jesus. It has been the centerpiece of my study and quiet time ever since.
Kerry was on the staff of the North American Mission Board for 14 years, beginning in 1994. However, in 2006 he was told NAMB was no longer going to fund his position. By then, God had been kindling a desire in his heart to develop a strategy to reach “cultural creatives” for Christ. NAMB leadership indicated that they would help him fulfill that desire as a part of the Mission Service Corps.
In response to the challenge presented to him, Kerry went to downtown Atlanta and helped start Midtown Bridge Church at Atlantic Station. By August 2007 the church was officially launched at what was the Fox Sports Grill with a burden to reach the city of Atlanta. In January 2008 the church moved into Regal Cinemas in Atlantic Station. The church has continued to grow and this month celebrated its tenth anniversary.
A call to Indy
Kerry left Midtown Bridge Church and started Bezalel Church. Bezalel is regarded as the first artist in the Bible and the chief artisan of the Tabernacle. He was a highly gifted workman who engraved precious metals and stones and did marvelous woodcarvings.
In 2013 Kerry felt called to Indianapolis, IN to plant a church in the cultural arts district on Massachusetts Avenue. The church was Circle City Canvas Church. In order to appeal to his affinity group, Kerry finds creative ways to lead in worship including what he calls praying in color, sculpting in Play Doh – whatever the Holy Spirit prompts the worshiper to create, having authors read their poetry and using musicians to utilize their gifts to the glory to God.
Kerry stated, “We even had a filmmaker in our church who made an original video that we showed in one worship service.”
Sent out from Marietta
While in Indianapolis, Kerry had some health problems that became acute. Primarily a chronic cough resulted in dizziness, passing out, nausea, and on one occasion, even fractured six ribs.
The health issues and sense he needed to refocus his ministry prompted Kerry and Twyla, his wife of 37 years, to return to Atlanta. Once there, they sought rest and to hear from the Lord. NAMB granted him a sabbatical so that he could have a season of rest and an opportunity to regain his strength.
He also had back surgery and during that time God reaffirmed that he needed to return to his ministry with creative people. Daryl Price, executive director of Noonday Baptist Association, urged Kerry to meet with Michael Lewis, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta. That meeting resulted in Roswell Street becoming Kerry’s sending church.
Kerry is now establishing a base for his ministry in Marietta. The New Creation Arts facility at 595(E) Roswell Street, just a few blocks from the historic Marietta Square, is now nearing completion.
His location will serve as an arts gallery, artists’ studios, and small venue for performance art. His plan was for that place to help him fulfill the Great Commission.
“Those to whom we minister”
“Those to whom we minister are visual artists, designers, writers, photographers, videographers, dancers, actors, storytellers, and musicians,” Kerry explained. “We provide working studio spaces, a shared art gallery where participating artists rotate as ‘Feature Artist of the Month,’ and space for performance arts such as dance, music, and spoken word.
“A small rental fee is required for each studio space. We are able to offer studios at an affordable rate due to the generosity of our non-profit ministry partners. The studio rental fees go into our general budget to help with the costs of our events.”
Talking to creative people
Kerry recently stated, “My classification has been changed from church planter to evangelism catalyst. My building will be a place for artists to work and display their creativity and I will be a part of all that. Primarily, though, I will be going out to share the Gospel with artists in creative ways.
“I suppose artists have their own eccentricities,” stated Kerry, “but I know how to relate the them and that is an advantage when it comes to helping them discover the beauty of redemption in Christ.
“I know how to talk to creative people about art and faith and how the two intersect. My desire is to lead them to Christ and help them see their roles as missionaries in their creative world. We already have a ‘Creative Group’ meeting every Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. There, artists of all disciplines gather to discuss how the Christian faith impacts their craft.”
Kerry Jackson would like for Georgia Baptists to know he is available to minister in churches by sharing biblical messages. In addition, he can paint pictures to illustrate the message.
“Drawn close to God through his art”
Lewis, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church, commented, “Kerry Jackson is an artist on mission with Jesus to reach artists with the Gospel. He is deeply rooted in the local church and possesses the attitude of a servant. Several times Kerry has painted as I preached. And in those times, greatly impacted the congregation to visualize the Word as they heard it proclaimed. Kerry is a gift to the kingdom and I’m grateful for him.”
“Kerry and Twyla Jackson are a missionary blessing to Marietta,” exclaimed Price. “We are grateful to have them modeling Jesus as they live and paint among the arts and creative community. They exemplify making disciples by living their lives to the fullest. It is wonderful to have them as part of Noonday Baptist Association’s missionary force.”
Todd Briggs, pastor of Midtown Church in Atlanta, says, “I have seen Kerry paint several times. Each time I sense the anointing of God on his work. I’m drawn close to God through his art. I rejoice as others experience who God is as Kerry paints. I have been a part of a lot of worship experiences, but few have impacted people like Kerry’s painting does. Both his life and his art give glory to God.”
Mission Service Corps personnel are responsible for developing partners to help them in prayer, participation, and providing.
New Creation Arts is a program of Drawing to the Rock Ministries, Inc. If you are interesting in partnering with him in any one of the three facets of his ministry please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org