Institute aims to blend faith, creativity

EDMONDS — We should not only use our mind to explore the spiritual world, but also our body, hands, voice and heart.

That’s the vision of the Institute for Spirituality and the Arts.

The institute is a ministry at Edmonds United Methodist Church that offers classes aimed at blending spirituality and creativity.

“Our mission is about putting these things together in interesting ways and acknowledging that they are very closely connected,” said Andrew Ryder, the program’s director.

Ryder, of Lynnwood, teaches theater at Seattle Pacific University.

One of the institute’s key tenets is that there is a spiritual dimension to all human experiences, Ryder said. For example, one of the classes taught computer skills to older adults to give them the opportunity to be more connected to the church and community. A class this past spring talked about sacred gardens within the Islamic and Christian traditions. Another class, in development right now, will explore astronomy and the scientific and spiritual aspects of the universe.

People usually have to pay a fee for classes, though organizers hope to recruit instructors who’d be willing to donate their time.

Ryder said he hopes participants will give back to the community by creating art or using new skills learned at the institute.

The goal of the program is to make many of the classes accessible to children and adults of all abilities.

The ministry took root about two years ago, when church members were hosting classes for children. The institute has since teamed up with the Center for Sacred Arts, a multi-faith organization based in Seattle.

The spiritual component sets the institute apart from other educational programs, said Laurie Napa, who is involved with the ministry.

“Spirituality is a very individual experience, and we would like our students to be able to develop and enhance their spiritual gifts through learning,” she said.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452;

Get involved

To get involved or learn more about the Institute for Spirituality and the Arts, go to and click on “Institute for Spirituality/Art” or call the church at 425-778-2119.

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