GRACE FARMS Opening

written by Marcus Paul James.

Grace Farms is a place that  provides a platform for people to experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith. But by God, words cannot do it justice.  The River Building serves as its center piece. Created by Japanese architect SANAA, its design is something the world will marvel for years to come.

The day could not have been more perfect.  The sun had uninterrupted shine, the air was crisp, and the trees where just starting to take on their fall coloring.  The feeling of being surrounded by beauty was breathtaking. Another perfect piece to the day was working with the incredibly generous, kind, and welcoming staff of Grace Farms including our very own Lisa Lynne Mathis.  There was hot cider served along the pathways, and freshly picked apples for days. It truly felt like another world.

Once there we met up with the amazing Matthew Rushing and talented dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.  Now, if you don't know who Matthew is, please do yourself a favor and go down the youtube rabbit hole of his choreography and work. He is truly a gifted artist and has been a staple in the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre world.  We finally put all the pieces together at the River's largest space called the sanctuary that is completely surrounded by glass.  Michael, Mathew, the staff, the choir, the dancers, light, and nature all seemed to flow through the space as we prepared for our afternoon performance.  

That performance was the first true test of the power the River Building can harness through art, collaboration, music, and ministry.  And we did not hold back.  Michael's hands went up and our voices cried out. When we stepped back to make room, Matthew and the Ailey dancers took us all to another place.  The performance ended with BIV barking out one of our favorite songs "It's Only A Test" and had everyone on their feet, clapping and stopping. The audience seemed physically overwhelmed and moved by this brand new experience, and so were we.

 Michael McElroy, Lisa Lynne Mathis, Matthew Rushing, Sharon Prince, Kenyon Adams

Michael McElroy, Lisa Lynne Mathis, Matthew Rushing, Sharon Prince, Kenyon Adams

 Michael McElroy, Matthew Rushing, Kenyon Adams

Michael McElroy, Matthew Rushing, Kenyon Adams

This day would not have been possible it it weren't for Kenyon Adams (Director of Arts Initiatives), and all of the managing staff and leaders at Grace Farms including president of the Grace Farms Foundation Sharon Prince.  

Happy opening!! This was a fantastic day. Stay tuned for more photos and video from the event.