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The Makers Series | Sojourn

Join us in the Fellowship Hall on Friday evening September 25th for the next installment of the Makers Series, as we explore the experience of sojourning via the written, visual, and musical arts. 

Doors open at 6:30 PM; Program begins at 7:00


“Not all who wander are lost.” This bumper-sticker sentiment captures the idea that our paths through the world are often round-about, rather than direct lines from point A to point B. This is true of our lives of faith, too, whether talking about our individual journeys with the Lord, or how whole church communities must always be depending on God to lead them into what’s next—their particular call to ministry in a particular time and place.  The challenge of following God and being shaped by the (to us) unknown paths he takes us on will be a theme in worship this fall as we study the book of Exodus.  But we’ll also explore that theme through the arts as we kickoff our Makers Series season on September 25 with an edition devoted to the idea of “sojourning.” 

“Sojourn” is a word that captures the idea of wandering and travelling far from home, but also lingering and even resting in foreign lands. To sojourn is to willingly stay, engage, and invest in a place or community, even when we recognize that our presence there is temporary and we may always be strangers. Sojourning is related to the idea of “exile,” but carries more of a sense of being sent into that foreign land more than being sent out from a true home. Exiles and sojourners both fervently seek for signposts on their journeys—for direction from the one who has laid out the road ahead. 

While the language of being spiritual travellers or “resident aliens” should strike a chord with all those who follow Jesus in our secularizing, post-Christian era, it is particularly appropriate when describing the lives and careers of many artists, perhaps especially those who are Christians. In this edition of the Makers Series, we’ll hear from three artists (designer/photographer Ansel Olsen, singer/songwriter Rebekah White and poet/novelist Marly Youmans) who have followed roundabout paths to their current creative work. They have also sought to provide signposts for other travellers, too, even as they have discovered them for themselves. 

What is the Makers Series?

The signature program of makeRVA (Third’s collaborative outreach to and through Richmond’s arts communities), each edition of the Makers Series brings together three “makers”—a writer, a visual artist, and a musician—to discuss their history and practice as artists and believers, touching on a unifying theme.  In a coffee house setting with refreshments available throughout, each guest presents for 20 minutes, followed by a moderated conversation between the three and the audience, seeking to find commonalities between each maker’s experiences and to draw out insights about faith, culture, and creativity. 

More on our Makers

Ansel Olsen

Born in El Paso, Texas, Ansel Olson grew up near Washington, DC, and earned his design degrees at VCU. His ancestors include a cartographer, a decorator, a master carpenter, and probably more than a few Vikings. As a photographer, Ansel specializes in architectural and fine art photography. He also works as a designer, collaborating with architects and interior designers for close to two decades now.  Despite following a winding path in the arts, himself, Ansel also specializes in wayfinding, designing innovative visual clues to help others figure out where they are and how they can get where they want to be.

Ansel's award winning work has been exhibited in multiple shows, galleries, and private collections. including the Federal Reserve, the Virginia Center for Architecture, Page Bond Gallery, and a number of historic resorts and hotels.  He currently has a show of work at Westminster Canterbury.

Ansel also co-founded one of Richmond’s first creative co-working spaces, The Marvin Lang Building. He was also a founding participant of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce's i.e.* initiative, aimed at growing Richmond's creative community. In this role he designed the launch event program, and helped found the initiative's Shop Class series, which has operated out of the Marvin Lang Building for four years in a row.  See some of his work at

Rebekah White

Former Richmonder Rebekah White is a Nashville-based singer, songwriter, and worship leader. She made her debut in the music industry writing and performing pop music, signing as an artist with Printz Board of the Black Eyed Peas. She performed all over Los Angeles at venues including the Hotel Café and The Whisky A-go-go, and has opened for artists including Fergie. 

While initially focused on performance, her experience making music with some of the top writers and producers in the industry suggested a different path.  About four years ago Rebekah’s aspirations turned towards being a sought-after songwriter who could write for other artists and help them find their voices. She signed a publishing deal with Michael Blanton of Nashville’s BE music, and began the next stage of her journey as a songwriter. Since then Rebekah has worked with Disney's Ashley Argota and Drew Seeley, The Voice's Taylor Beckham, X-Factor's Drew Reinewicz, and many more up-and-coming artists.

Continuing as a performer, too, Rebekah has 30 songs circulating and playing regularly in film and TV, with her own voice featured on each of them. Rebekah also has a passion for leading worship, and even though she has a plethora of work circulating in the pop market, her heart is found in the Lord’s presence and in worshiping her creator. She is currently recording her first full-length worship album, which she hopes to have released this year.   Rebekah will be joining in worship services at Third Church on Sunday morning, Sept. 27th.

Marly Youmans

Marly Youmans has been exploring the experience of journey and sojourning for most of her personal and professional life, being dragged about the country as a child (from South Carolina to Louisiana to Kansas to North Carolina and many places besides) before ending up in Cooperstown, NY.  Her education included Hollins, Brown and UNC, and she was a tenured professor at the State University of NY before she left academia and turned to writing full-time. 

Youmans is the author of thirteen books of fiction and poetry, including works for young readers as well as adults. Her most recent novels are the just-out Maze of Blood, inspired by the life of Robert E. Howard; Glimmerglass, the story of a painter's later-life thresholds-crossing transformation; and A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, a tale that follows a Georgia orphan boy's search for light and home. Recent poetry books are the collections The Foliate Head (UK: Stanza Press) and The Throne of Psyche (Mercer), as well as the epic adventure of Thaliad (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing.) Along the way, Marly has won various awards, publishing with the Big 5, with university presses, and with small presses.  You can find more about Marly on her website.

Marly will also be featured at the makeRVA Writer's Round-table on Saturday morning, September 26th.

Earlier Event: September 16
RECONNECT Kick-off – Wednesdays at Third
Later Event: September 27
Welcome Coffee