Two years ago, Ryan Phipps created a “guild” for songwriters and another for filmmakers and photographers at Forefront Church (New York, NY). Phipps, who serves as the worship and arts director at Forefront’s Manhattan campus, says the church offered several groups for business professionals but nothing for artists beyond the music on Sunday morning.
The Forefront groups are in the spirit of the medieval guilds, which developed as associations of master craftsmen with shared skills.
“The idea was to gather people around a shared creative interest,” he says. “The response to the first two was overwhelming, so we’ve added additional guilds for graphic design, fine arts, and fashion.”
The guilds are open to anyone in the community who wants to collaborate and create with others in their field, and Phipps says many of the participants are not Forefront attendees.
“We want people to get better at their craft with people who have their best in mind,” he says. “If they want to know why we care about them, we’ll share, but being a Christian is not a requirement for joining a guild.”
The film and photography guild was recently approached by a local nonprofit for help with a branding project, and interest in the program continues to grow—one Forefront attendee hopes to start a “hacker’s” guild for web development and coding.