We sat down with Mark Tootle, Music Director at Faith Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, the host for our upcoming Intersections gathering, to talk about our upcoming Intersections Worship Night on Friday, March 8, 2019.
Mark, you’ve been a part of the arts scene for a long time in the Sacramento area. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was part of Warehouse Christian Ministries from the early seventies through 2005. Due to the vision for the arts that Mary Neely had, the Lord blessed the church with amazing creativity. Worship was embraced by almost all the arts—music, spoken word, art, film, dramatic arts—and this filtered out into the community through exhibits, concerts, recordings, and fellowships centered around various art disciplines. To be part of that was rewarding and exacting, challenging and satisfying. Along the way I finished a degree in music composition, with some post-doc work.
After that, I was in a downtown church, First Baptist of Sacramento (founded in 1860). A smaller church, but I tried to maintain the same standard that I learned at Warehouse when it came to the arts.
I’ve been at Faith Presbyterian Church since January, 2017, a thriving, giving community of believers in the Pocket Area near Florin and I5.
Why do you think the arts are important to our faith?
Well, first I have to say that I am no expert on faith or the arts. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings on these things. Most of the time I feel that I’m just riffing on a moment’s inspiration instead of speaking from a lot of studying and living.
But I think art and faith are intricately connected. Although we can talk about them separately, they always happen together. Art is worship of some sort because all art is inspired. It begins when an artist has faith in something or someone. The art that comes out of this faith is giving worth to, or worshiping, that thing or person. This worth is given to the degree the artist believes it should be given, and therefore affects how much effort is put into the art. The artist can’t help it, they’re using their faith whether they know it or not, whether the art is ‘transcendent’ or not, ‘successful’ or not.
Can you tell us what we can expect from our upcoming Worship Night? Do you have any surprises for us?
Friday night, March 3, will be filled with music, singing, dance, spoken word, and live painting. Faith Presbyterian’s pastor, Jeff Chapman, will give a devotional based on the passage from Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus invites all of us to learn about Him and His ways. It’s from this passage, as translated by Eugene Petersen, where the conference gets its title, Rhythms of Grace. We’ll worship our Savior by exploring this passage in various ways through all these different disciplines.
We’re excited about the Worship Night on Friday night, March 8, beginning at 7 PM. There will also be a fellowship time afterwards as well. Please feel free to bring your friends, your fellow artists of faith, and family. Finally, you might consider bringing along your pastors and church leadership, to give them a sense of how the arts can be incorporated in more significant ways into corporate worship. Register here for this free event, and for the all-day Gathering on Saturday, March 9.