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Being Astonished by Beauty in Birmingham

Gina Hurry

“Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still
 and learning to be astonished.”

Mary Oliver
excerpt from her poem The Messenger

 Annual Pastor/Artist Dinner

The Beauty of Conversation Around the Table

April 14, 2016

This April, InSpero hosted a Pastor/Artist Dinner at Feast & Forest. This annual event is a perfect example of how InSpero loves to give good gifts: facilitating deep conversation around a beautiful meal, building understanding and community, igniting dreams for the good of our city, and finding ways for the church and the creative community to reach the city together.
Five senior pastors and five artists sat around the table with Nancy and Gina to discuss what fuels and frustrates their work and calling, what sustains them in the midst of criticism and isolation, and what they envision and hope for the city of Birmingham. 

These pastors and artists were surprised much more by their similarities than their differences, by the shared weight of the call or cross they’ve taken up, the conflicts and criticisms internally and externally they face, and the courage to be true to who they are. All have seen the power of beauty and truth transform individuals and communities and it keeps them up at night as they long to be found faithful to the end. For one, it is through teaching music to teens in juvenile detention centers in Shelby County. For another it is mentoring at-risk teen girls in Ensley through creatives arts. For one pastor, it is breaking through to men and women in Fairfield to see they truly are made in the image of God. For another, it is choosing to preach in a vulnerable, honest way which provokes as well as comforts. 

The participants this year included:
Bruce Andrews, Executive Director of the Shelby County Arts Council, visual artist/illustrator and singer-songwriter with the band 2BLU. Bill Boyd, Senior Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Deidre Clark, Ambassador for Ensley, photographer and founder/administrator of Kuumba Creative Arts, a career readiness after-school program for teens interested in graphic design. Gary Furr, Pastor of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, teacher, speaker and writer, songwriter and musician with local acoustic band. Alton Hardy, Church planter and Lead Pastor of Urban Hope Community Church in Fairfield. Derek Jacks, Pastor of Homewood Cumberland Presbyterian. Alicia McCool, Adjunct professor of dance at Samford University, modern dance teacher at Briarwood Ballet, and board member, dancer, and choreographer with Sanspointe Dance Company. Mark Quay, Rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, adjunct faculty in Anglican Studies at Beeson Divinity School. Troy Rhone, Landscape architect and designer and owner of Troy Rhone Garden Design. Ty Smith, Painter, teacher (UAB & AU, Adjunct Faculty), and stay-at-home father.
InSpero will host two pastor/artists dinners this coming year in October and April.

Magic City Storyteller
A Night of Story and Song

(and some pretty awesome cookies)

 Poet Ashley Jones reading from her upcoming book,  Magic City Gospel

Poet Ashley Jones reading from her upcoming book, Magic City Gospel

On Thursday, May 12, people feasted on wine, cheese, cookies, along with amazing stories and songs touching on themes ranging from Sammy Davis Junior to mysterious coffins to the musical Hamilton to turtle soup. Thanks to our dear friend Bob McKenna for giving us the perfect setting at The Clubhouse on Highland. 

InSpero Keeps Growing
Our New Advisory Council and Junior Board

  New council members discussing what "flourishing" the city looks like. 

New council members discussing what "flourishing" the city looks like. 

As InSpero grows, a diverse and talented group of people have joined us to serve on the InSpero Advisory Council led by Gary Purdy and Junior Board led by Susan Gordon, Charlotte Ann Adams and Courtney Wright. Link here to scroll through the people who’re jumping on board.

What’s Coming Up

InSpero’s 2016-2017 Calendar of Events Please link to our website calendar for list of our upcoming events. Here's what's happening in September and October:

The Art of Community  Thursday September 15

 Jonathan Rogers, storyteller, author

Jonathan Rogers, storyteller, author

 Eric Peters, musician, songwriter

Eric Peters, musician, songwriter

 Corey Nolen, musician, songwriter, photographer

Corey Nolen, musician, songwriter, photographer

 Gordon Bals, counselor, author

Gordon Bals, counselor, author

Listen in on a conversation on creative friendship with storyteller/author Jonathan Rogers, musicians Eric Peters and Corey Nolen, and author/counselor Gordon Bals at Pike Road Millworks. There will be storytelling and music as well. On September 16, Eric Peters will give a house show (limit 50 people).  If interested, please contact Rachel Hunt at

The City Beautiful/The Church Beautiful: Our Shared Dreams for Birmingham

October 18-20

 Andi Ashworth

Andi Ashworth

 Dr. Steven Garber

Dr. Steven Garber

This year InSpero will present a series of events featuring two of our board members who are nationally known voices on the integration of faith, vocation, and the arts for the flourishing of our cities. They are Dr. Steven Garber, author of Visions of Vocation and founder and president of the Washington Institute of Faith, Vocation and Culture and Andi Ashworth, co-founder/director emeritus of Art House America and author of Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring.  This will be followed in March 2017  with an InSpero fundraising dinner at Pike Road Millwork as we together rejoice in the rebuilding of The City Beautiful and what “stones” we will add. (Jeremiah 29:7, Isaiah 61:1-4)

How We're Bringing Beauty, Hope and Healing to Our City
And How You Can Join Us!

InSpero is stirring up conversations and community around the city, including:
InSpero Profiles:  InSpero's new monthly interview with creatives from around the city who share the same vision for hope and healing for our city. Our first profile is on Corey Nolen, our latest addition to our Board of Directors.  
InSpero Response: Monthly gathering of artists and creatives in the Woodlawn area led by Deidre Clark and Charlotte Donlon
The Art of Hospitality: InSpero is creating a community of those with the creative gift of hospitality (the foundation of all we do) and will kick it off with a discussion with Andi Ashworth on October 18.
InSpero Bridge-Builders:  We are excited to be gathering a forum of artists and advocates who are grappling with the hard issues around justice, brokenness, inequities, and the historical wounds of Birmingham.
The Listening Room: InSpero is creating a community to give local musicians a way to encourage one another, including several house shows a year.
Young Creatives: Communities are forming for young creatives to connect and encourage one another. 

Join Us!

InSpero's financial and volunteer needs grow as we reach more of Birmingham's creative community to bring beauty, hope, and healing to our city and churches. Please click on donation icon in this website to make a donation and contact Rachel Hunt at to find your place at InSpero to invest your time, talents, and passions.