Giving young people and families a better future through art — while being discipled in a safe environment — is the God-given desire of Zanesville, Ohio, artist and entrepreneur Faith Cornell. As an artist and church youth volunteer, it took her a few years to figure out how to marry her artistic talents with her passion to spread the gospel, especially to the younger generation.

Faith was able to turn her passion into reality when she created Goodcity Creatives Community Development Corp. a few years ago, which was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2022. Goodcity offers free and low-cost arts programs and after-school classes to students. She also runs a Young Creatives Digital Art Summer Camp and a few other workshops using space provided by her church, Grace Wesleyan in Zanesville.

“Our mission is to provide opportunities for youth and families to engage with the arts, technology and the gospel,” said Faith. Goodcity’s demographic is children whose parents may not be able to afford or accommodate extracurricular learning experiences.

Faith used her creativity in church work over the years, but says she sometimes thought it was a “useless gift.” But now, her belief is that God wants to use every good gift he provides to meet other’s needs and bring him glory.

The idea for a faith-based after-school program first began to form in 2016 when a friend asked Faith to teach a homeschool art class. This request gave her the confidence to think about using art in a broader way. In 2017, she agreed to go on a mission trip to teach Haitians art skills that would allow them to help provide for their families. Due to Haiti’s civil unrest, the trip was canceled, but the Lord used this moment to plant the seed for Goodcity in her heart.

Faith and her husband, Brandon, began to formulate the plan for Goodcity. With the call of Jeremiah 29 in their hearts, they were led to pray for and seek the welfare (GOOD) of their city.

While still unsure of how to put in motion the desires God placed on her heart, Faith continued to serve her church’s youth. Then in 2021 doors began to open when she received a small personal grant to do good in the community. “I used that small grant to buy supplies and support an art-themed VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our church and do art-in-the-park projects themed around a Bible verse or topic.” That same summer her husband, Brandon, and their oldest son taught a hip-hop workshop at summer camp.

With the success of these opportunities, Faith and Brandon asked three friends — Doug Wells, Stephanie Taylor and Jockette Cooper — to come alongside them. These friends brought clarity to Goodcity’s mission, helped the Cornells brainstorm ways to serve the community, prayed for the organization and provided accountability. 

How Goodcity uses art to spread the Word

Faith shares the gospel through Goodcity in a variety of ways — through a beautifully illustrated book with a gospel-central message or by explicitly telling students they were created by a good God. “Holidays are especially good for connecting lessons about faith topics to art,” she says, such as making wisemen ornaments. Her digital art summer camp program was entirely themed around Psalm 139 and called “Wonderful Works, Good Design.”

“Each environment is different, though with every one of them the goal has been to build relationships that help me share my faith in an authentic and relevant way,” shares Faith.

Goodcity is currently a staff of one with plans to expand. Faith serves as president, director and lead teaching artist. She also has a board of directors and three volunteers who help at larger community events. The next step is a permanent after-school program, a youth development staff member, a paid high school intern and more volunteers. Her work attracted the attention of the local Zanesville news, and WHIZ TV did an online article explaining her unique way of mixing her love of art with the gospel.

In addition to being an artist and teacher, Faith is a ministerial student working toward ordination in The Wesleyan Church. Through Goodcity, she is living out her Acts 1:8 call and inviting others to join her.

“We are adding people to our board now, which makes me excited for what the Lord is doing and will do through them! I love seeing people walking in their calling and purpose and am excited to help others do that. I also really love seeing young people connect the dots, and when the light comes on — both creatively and spiritually!”

Faith, Brandon, and Goodcity’s board and volunteers are Unleashing the Kingdom, making a difference for the good of the city and the people of Zanesville.

Jennifer Jones is a former journalist and pastor’s wife serving as the North Carolina East District administrator.