A choir composed of past-addicts came to perform in Jane Willis’s church. In a village beneath the South Downs, Jane says this group served the church as a “Taste of what it means to be made in the image of our creator and re-creating God because we found pleasure and satisfaction in creativity.”
Although a minister at this church, Jane has also shared the role of leading the Lee Abbey photography weeks for the last couple of years.
She sees these weeks as “spiritual practice,” as she teaches photography and the art of letting the camera become an aid to contemplation. Jane shares,
I’ve learned that there are so many languages of worship, and everything was created for God’s glory. Joy, pleasure, play – the arts have helped me to learn more of what it means to be human. I’ve learned about taking delight in God’s world, and so delight in God.
While Jane has primarily worked with photography, she has experience in painting and printmaking as well. Jane uses photography and walking as two ways of resting with God when life gets overwhelming. She’ll go for a prayer walk over the fields and climb Wolstonbury Hill. Or, she may take a stroll along the coast with her family, never forgetting her camera or chocolate Labrador.
“Joy, pleasure, play – the arts have helped me to learn more of what it means to be human.”
Jane has a particular fascination with the concept of place and our experience of place, much like author Robert MacFarlane.
Before serving in leadership at Lee Abbey, Jane came regularly as a guest, mostly attending weekends focused on the arts in worship. One time she came with her church dance group and they interacted with a variety of artists with a variety of art forms. Her highlight was during communion: “Everything the individual groups had been preparing came together in worship – it felt like a foretaste of heaven. If someone asks me what sort of worship I like – I say all of it, so long as it’s for Jesus.”