East Dallas is full of churches — old, new, big, small, traditional and modern. On Sunday mornings the parking lots swarm with neighbors dressed to impress and ready for an hour of worship and teaching, but during the rest of the week many East Dallas churches transform into community gathering places. They become concert venues, art galleries, afterschool programs, coffee shops and urban gardens — whatever the surrounding community needs. Over the next several months, we’ll take a look at some of the programs offered in our neighborhood’s houses of worship.

Doug Haney, Wilshire Baptist Church’s Minister of Music.(Photo by Rasy Ran)

Doug Haney, Wilshire Baptist Church’s Minister of Music.(Photo by Rasy Ran)

Doug Haney feels the rhythm wherever he goes, and he wants to share it with others.

As the minister of music at Wilshire Baptist Church, Haney has long considered opening up the church to share his love of the arts, but it didn’t become a reality until this year.

“I thought, ‘Do we need another art series or music series in the Dallas area?’” Haney says.

Haney loves living in a city that’s big enough to attract national artists, he explains, “but then it occurred to me that maybe there’s an opportunity for us to do something that really taps into local musicians.”

He reached out to several artists to find out if anyone was interested in being a part of an ongoing series. They were, and around the same time more musicians were contacting him looking for a place to play. Soon, the church was booked through July.

All he needed was a catchy name. In October, Arts on Abrams was born.

“It packages a few things we’ve done in the past with several new artists,” says associate pastor Mark Wingfield.

This series is “designed to be community friendly,” Wingfield explains.

“One of the hallmarks of Wilshire’s vision is to be not only a part of the community but to welcome the community into our facilities and programs,” he says. “We really do want to appeal to those who live around us and may go to church somewhere else or nowhere else. We want to share the resources we have for the sake of building community and offering beauty through arts.”

So far the series consists primarily of musical events, although Haney says he’s “open to conversations” about other artistic endeavors as well.

Coming down the pike, Ken Davis Chorale, a professional-quality choral group with ties to Texas Tech, is scheduled to play on Jan. 16. Then some jazz in February from the Garrett Wingfield Quartet, a quartet made up of University of North Texas students and alumni. In March Wilshire will present two nights of the stage version of “Amadeus,” directed by Nancy Poynter, a beloved retired theater teacher from Lake Highlands High School. A choral presentation in partnership with the Grief and Loss Center of North Texas is planned for April, which focuses on hope for those who are grieving.

Admission for all events is free.

Learn more at wilshirebc.org

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