Try a six month print or digital Life and Work subscription


Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Please confirm that you are happy to hear from The Church of Scotland:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit the Privacy Policy on our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Home  >  News  >  New Ministry to the Arts Begins


New Ministry to the Arts Begins

Wednesday November 2

A new minister dedicated to the visual arts community has been welcomed into his post with a ceremony that showcased a new installation in Renfield St Stephens Church of Scotland in Glasgow.

The Rev Peter Gardner marked the start of his pioneering ministry by creating 'Lightlines', a kinetic installation made from 153 recycled glass jars suspended from the church ceiling on nylon cords and partially filled with water, making each one a vessel to catch the light.

Peter said his work explores the place where art and spirituality meet.

“I always try to create art that is meaningful and challenging and that makes us question where we are and how we view the mysteries of life,” he added.

“One of the things art can do is help us question and reflect on our spirituality. Often the Christian message is delivered in words, which are definitive. Art is a different language that is visual and engages people through imagination. Art is far more open and gives people the freedom to think in new and very different ways.”
Peter is taking up the new pioneer ministry following 14 years as parish minister at Renfield St Stephens. During that time he built many different types of installations with his longtime artistic collaborator, his wife Heidi. 

“Heidi and I have always worked as a team,” Peter says. “It is great to work with someone who shares the same vision for art and the same passion for making. It is this passion, and the faith which drives it, which we believe will make this arts ministry with Glasgow’s artistic community a success over the next five years.”

Heidi adds: “We are able to complement one another in what we do. We don’t even have to speak because we have planned it together from the start and we share the same idea. The work just flows because we just know what the other thinks.”

The new role was created following a Church of Scotland commitment to spend £1 million on five pioneer  posts to develop new faith communities across Scotland. Other posts will serve students, the farming community and areas of deprivation.

Iain Campbell, who is the artist in residence at St George's Tron Parish Church in Buchanan Street, welcomed the new pioneer ministry.

“When I was a student at Glasgow School of Art in the 90s, I went to a church with a bare brick interior,” he said.
“People thought it was nice that I was an artist, but couldn’t understand what it had to do with God. There was a real disconnect between my art-life and church-life.

“Artists are people asking deep questions about life and church hasn’t always been a place we can easily connect when the focus has always been on the verbal.  
“I’m really glad that the Church of Scotland is trying hard to break down those barriers. Artists have a real need for spiritual support and have a lot to offer in the way of spiritual reflection.
“Art has a language of its own, and is very good at engaging people by making them curious and wanting to engage themselves, just as Jesus made people curious with his parables.”   

Peter said that while he is just at the beginning of planning for the new ministry, he is looking forward to working with Glasgow’s arts practitioners.

He said: “I have a deep concern for artists and my primary commitment is to listen to them, to accompany them and to offer pastoral care.  
“I see my new ministry as being part of a dialogue between art and faith and I intend to develop this conversation through the creation of new work and the nurturing of a supportive community, a place of making and of faith.

“I believe that this Pioneer Ministry is a sign that within the Church there is a growing understanding that the creator God made us to be creative and a growing commitment to engage with visual artists to create new art and new ways of worship.”  

Peter will be working from Renfield St Stephen's until a base for the new ministry is established.  He can be reached by email at


There are currently no comments on this post

Add a reply

All fields are required. Email address will not be published.