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Home > Articles > Knoxville Christian Arts Ministry

Knoxville Christian Arts Ministry

     What do you get when you add a church in Knoxville, Tennessee to the city of Lima, Peru? The answer is KnoxCAM.


     In 2005, the Sanctuary and Handbell Choirs of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church traveled to Lima, Peru on a mission trip, presenting concerts at universities and churches within the city. Once back home, the group was moved to continue their missionary outreach, not only in Knoxville but throughout Tennessee, by sharing their talents in the performing arts. Knoxville Christian Arts Ministries was commissioned by the church in July of 2009.


article courtesy of Dr. Jill Lagerberg

     Excerpt from a letter from a Tennessee prison inmate: “I really loved and enjoyed your perform you all did on Saturday. I'm very glad you were able to go to prisons teaching about Jesus and Christianity. This was the 1st time I came and heard of you all last night’s glorious performance. I'm happy I was able to be present in your presence and God's too.”


     This letter from a young man in a Tennessee state prison goes to the heart of the mission of Knoxville Christian Arts Ministries. KnoxCAM is using God’s beautiful gifts of music, drama, and dance to share the gospel of Christ outside the walls of the church building, primarily in prisons across Tennessee. Smaller ensembles minister in nursing care, senior living, and hospice facilities and at county jails. An outreach ministry of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, KnoxCAM is in its seventh season and has over 100 singers, instrumentalists, actors, dancers, and handbell ringers from 30 different congregations and 11 denominations in the Knoxville area.


     KnoxCAM concerts most resemble musical theater: a 55-voice SATB choir, 20-piece orchestra, 5-octave handbell choir, and drama and dance are fully integrated to tell stories of God’s unfailing love and salvation, even in the midst of devastating circumstances. The stories are based on real-life events, often from the lives of the prisoners themselves. Director Jill Lagerberg says, “We want people to know there is hope in Jesus, no matter what they have done or who they have been. God still loves them.”


     The handbell choir is an integral part of the ministry. Jill says, “In the past couple of years, the handbells have become, in effect, a huge instrument in our orchestra. In addition to music composed especially for them, they play harp parts; they play pitched percussion parts; they are used for specific sound effects to heighten what is going on dramatically. They have really enhanced what we are able to do musically. And just as importantly, they are a means of ministering to our audiences one-on-one. Many of the people we visit have never seen or heard bells before, and they are curious. The bells become conversation-starters, and those conversations lead to times of encouragement and prayer with people. Our handbell director, Paula Smith, has unending patience, persistence, and kindness. She’s a gem.”


     The KnoxCAM season runs from August through May each year. Jill says, “We are always looking for new members and asking God to send us those who will have a heart for the ministry.”


    To learn more about KnoxCAM and find out how you can get involved, visit their website (be sure to watch the promotional video), their Facebook page or contact Dr. Lagerberg by phone 865-291-5218 or email Jill is always happy to talk with people about this wonderful ministry.