Artist In Residence

South Church is looking for its next Artist-In-Residence. We created the program as an opportunity to introduce new voices, diversify the worship experience, and learn together in faith. Artists-in-Residence create new work and lead talk-back conversations. How this relationship looks is greatly dependent on the artist. We hope to have a new artist each fall and each spring. The program is open to artists of any discipline with the exception of music as we have a separate musician-in-residence program (details coming soon).

Specifically, the Artist in Residence Program aims to:

  • Enhance, generally, the arts at South Church in Andover for people of all ages;
  • Expose congregants to a wider range of creative expressions of justice, hope,
    redemption, suffering, joy, faith, etc.
  • Foster interactive communication and expression between
    residents and congregants;
  • Support the work of local artists

While every arrangement in the AiR is suited to the talents of the resident, all cases seek to benefit both the church and the resident. In supporting the AiR, the church uses its various and unique resources to compensate artists for their contributions. These resources include: the church as a space for performance and visibility; access to our congregation as an audience; access to our publications for advertising; and, a limited stipend. We hope to cast a wide net, attracting creative people from many disciplines.

Clarence Morse Jr. (South Church AiR Spring 2021) is a man of many names and many faces. By 22, he’s led poetry workshops throughout the world, been a prodigal son and caring friend to those who know him. A student of the school of hard knocks, he’s spent his time trying to make sense of the world in the only way he knows how – poetry. His collection of poetry, The Concept, is available for purchase on Amazon.

CJ wrote and recorded five pieces of spoken word poetry that were included in South Church’s virtual worship services. He is also lead talk-back conversations, as an opportunity to grow, learn, and be in dialogue together.

Click images below to watch CJ share his pieces. 

"Cornerstones" 4/25/2021

"And So He Returns" 4/4/2021

"Mother" 5/9/2021

Mother by CJ Morse

When I was young
I barely left my momma’s side
See she was home for most of my life
And I’m the type to imprint easily
Missing the moments between grievances
It’s a lot to hold onto
Especially when you see how often kids in my city became targets
Running around like they done lost it
And I wanted to be just like them

As I got older and started running round Andover
Getting in with pretty chicks that didn’t mind my complexion
Intellectual conversations held over breakfast
I always thought it was important for them to meet my momma
Cause that’s who held the final word
And that’s just how it worked

But then she came along
Singing a song that sounded like blood on the dance floor
And I ran farther into the discordant nature of youth
Left my momma at 19, barely a man, really just a teen
Who fell in love with the way the guitar strings could ease his pain
I fell in love with the way the drums could push the blood through my veins
A microphone turned from a tool of imparting wisdom to my best friend
And I used to say it was all because of him

Man…

I’ve read the passage about the prodigal son
And when I returned I thought a kingdom would come
But instead all I found was the love of my family
Grown with time spent in the quiet hills of suburbia
Away from the chaos of urban living
These people I loved so dearly had changed

And my momma, sweet momma remained
She’s my day one cheerleader
Holding my flag in her hands
Pushing me to rise above these earthly demands
Reminding me of where I began
Before everything turned into dust

So now that I’ve shaken off the rust
I pay back every ounce of love
Writing these words in a parking lot
Every time.

My first Mother’s Day back home
And I thank God
That he brought me back alive

"Poor Man's Dreams" 5/16/2021

Poor Man’s Dreams by CJ Morse

Waking up on the couch I spent years of my adult life on
I watch as the haze of the morning shines through the windows
Dragging myself to the bathroom I catch a glance of myself in the mirror
A disheveled mess of a young man wearing broken glasses
Doing all he can to make it through the week
I got a flight to catch in 3 hours
Where I’m going, doesn’t matter
I just pray that the Lord keeps me safe as I wander through pastures

See you can go to any city in America and find somebody struggling
Cigarettes and weed, homeless brothers in need
They smoke cause it’s already hard to breathe
Choking on the reality of concentrated poverty
Where the kids play games in the dark of the night
Wondering if the pops they hear are fireworks or gun shots
Followed by ambulance and police sirens…
Guess it was gun shots
Guess that’s where the fun stops

Meanwhile in the burbs
The trees are all in bloom
Watch a cardinal land in the flowers on my way to move
Kids play in organized fashions, practicing their role
Thinking one day they’ll make it out this town and into the city
Where their apartments 20 stories off the ground will be home to extravagant parties
And they’ll gentrify a neighborhood for designer coffee

America the beautiful
America the depraved
Two sides of the same coin
At least that’s what they say
Finding the hatred of mankind running deeper with each day
That’s why we need love in this world, that’s why Jesus came

Asking questions of the Lord
I find myself like Job at the end of my rope
Knowing if I overstep my bounds
I’ll burn like Rome
And so I’ve been told
To stick to my path
Picking up the pieces of a poor man’s dream
I like to live life as if I’m watching on a movie screen
The audience of one to a natural disaster

Call up my pastor
Tell him I don’t know if I can do it
The day’s grow long and the money runs thin
Afterwards, I’ll keep myself from falling victim to sin
Passive as I watch my friend drown himself in gin
Passive as I watch my life repeat cycles once again
Is this where it ends
Or have I found a new beginning

America the beautiful
America the shamed
She wears her crown of broken bodies with pride as the youth cry with pain
Too busy politicking to notice her clothes aflame
It’s a shame

Our time is fleeting on this earth
A molten rock covered with the scars of mankind
But Jesus told you then and I’ll repeat it now
The poor you’ll always have with you
But you won’t always have me
So let this breathe for a moment
And maybe you’ll see
We all choose how to spend this time
Just like the nickels and dimes thrown for candy
I put my hands to the sky asking the Lord for clarity
Before I begin such a thing
As this poetry.

"My Prayer" 6/20/2021

My Prayer by CJ Morse

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father
A lot has changed since I began this path
When my feet touched the earth after a long period of rest
I expected to find everything in its place
Instead I stay silent as the days go on
Praying through these verses that time might move on…

A man I respect once told me that the path of an artist is lonely
I was barely yet a man
Out in the world making plans that were going awry
Every day was a fight to survive
I had my girl by my side and I thought everything was gonna be alright
As long as I kept praying in the quiet times

I hate saying good byes
Cause half the time I can look to the stars
And know that somewhere out there
They’re seeing the same sky
So why play these games of hide and seek…

Lord as I sit here in my introverted delusions of grandeur
I only pray that you speak
With a voice like thunder yet gentle like the rain
Lord I only ask questions these days
Cause I approach the finish line of one task you handed me
And I see the starting line for the next race
This time I want to go as far as my legs can take
And then a thousand miles further
Til my feet are raw and bloody from this brutal stage…

Lord I pray
For a congregation that welcomed me with open arms
For a congregation that allowed me to pour your words through my heart
Using this gift to create art for something deeper than just whimsy
Lord I pray you keep them safe
I pray at the end of this life
I see all their faces at heaven’s gates
Singing songs of praise to the most high

Lord please…
Let this not be an ending to a moment suspended
But rather a beginning to a renaissance extending far into a future I can only dream of
Lord I believe in your strength
There’s days where I swear I can feel you pushing me forward in the wind
There’s moments where I know you humble me to begin once again
To put my hands and my heart to work
I never thought I’d be back in a church
Yet here I am
Speaking words to me that feel like eternity…

Lord I pray.
Lord I pray.
You bring every face I’ve seen back to me someday
And may all this work be done in your name.

Amen.