At the core of the Assemblies of God is a desire to see a Spirit-empowered people released in ministry in all spheres of life. Fine Arts is evidence that for more than 50 years, as the Spirit equips His people for service, the future of the Assemblies is laden with excellent ministry and creative service.
Tonight, the final night of General Council, the Assemblies of God (U.S.) celebrates 50 years of creative excellence in a special service for Fine Arts. It features a choir and orchestra made up of current FA students and participants, and awards will be given for eight main divisions: Art, Communication, Dance, Drama, Exhibition, Instrumental, Vocal and Writing.
Nearly 65,000 students across the country participate year-round in this program of National Youth Ministries designed to help students discover, develop and deploy their ministry gifts. It uses the thrill of competition to allow students to compete at both district and national levels.
The Fine Arts Festival has expanded significantly since the inaugural competition, then called Teen Talent, was held in 1964. At that time, the only category was music. Since then, the festival has graduated a host of noteworthy competitors, including award-winning artists.
Owen Carr was director of Christ’s Ambassadors (now National Youth Ministries) and was first to start National Bible Quiz and Teen Talent. The first recorded AG Talent Search was held in the Southern California District in 1960. The national competition was first held in 1964 in Springfield, Mo.
Cyril McLellan (of Revivaltime fame) used to play a huge role in Teen Talent by directing the combined finalists choir and orchestra every year.
Looking through the timeline, one can see how the event has evolved from a smaller competition to beginning to include extra-curricular events and activities, taking place in conjunction with other NYM outreaches such as “The Third Dimension in the 70s,” to becoming a massive festival and event in its own right. There were always talks about expanding the categories competed in within Teen Talent.
In 1968, 56 churches participated and 39 districts were involved. In 1986, Teen Talent was transitioned into the Fine Arts Festival format. A decade later in 1995, more than 2,100 participated in St. Louis Fine Arts. In 2001 there were 27 categories for participation at the national level. In 2005, more than 13,000 people participated in the Fine Arts Festival.
“It’s an incredible ministry with a rich past,” Heath Adamson, national youth director, said. “There have been a lot of changed lives, but the greatest days of Fine Arts are not behind us. They’re ahead of us.”