Ballerina Jennifer Danielle Buck, 33, glided across the stage in a black leotard, the debut of a routine she said was inspired by a New Testament parable about entitlement.
Ms. Buck's recent performance concluded an hour of song-filled worship at the Haven, an artists' alliance affiliated with an evangelical Christian ministry. Each week, about 150 creative young professionals meet for two hours at Calvary Episcopal Church on Park Avenue South to pray, study scripture, and share their artistry.
At every meeting, one Haven member gives "an inspiration" — a short sermon followed by an artistic presentation. A musician will play a song or two, a painter will show off his canvases, or an actress will perform a monologue. The inspirations at Haven "give God an opportunity to speak to your peers through you," Ms. Buck said.
Following the inspiration, Haven members attend breakout sessions, during which groups of eight to 10 people discuss passages from the Bible.
Since it was founded about a decade ago by actor Tony Hale, who went on to star in the Fox sitcom "Arrested Development," the Haven has served as a support community for artists determined to live by Christian values — not by the dog-eat-dog rules that usually apply. "The nature of pursuing art in New York is so cut-throat and competitive that it's easy to get caught up in the game of ‘Who are you going to step on to get what you want?'" a folk rock musician who is a Haven board member, Dusty Brown, said.
In the past year, the Haven has evolved into a group that increasingly focuses on outreach through larger-scale, open-to-the-public plays and concerts. The group, for example, produced seven one-act plays about mercy at Center Stage in Gramercy Park last fall, and began sponsoring monthly singer-songwriter nights at the Knitting Factory in TriBeCa. "We're doing what we're called upon to do as Christians: Engaging in a dialogue with people who believe what we do, and with people who don't," Mr. Brown, 32, said.
Another Haven board member, Kevin Johnson, 27, said Christians are called upon to "partake in God's redemption of the world," and artists can do this through their bodies of work. Mr. Johnson, a playwright and actor, compared art to biblical parables, saying both can "get to the heart of what's true" without saying it expressly.
Not part of Calvary Episcopal Church, the Haven is affiliated with Priority Associates — a Christian ministry linked to the evangelical Campus Crusade for Christ. Priority Associates also organizes Paradox, a New York-based Christian fellowship for fashion industry processionals.
For many Haven members, professional pursuits are guided by Christian values.
Some performers say they attempt to determine whether violence, sexuality, or bad language is essential to a storyline, or whether it is gratuitous. When it's the latter, many say they would turn down the project.
Others have ruled out certain language, or types of performances.
"I definitely feel compelled by God not to do certain things, or say certain things — even though I do want to push the envelope and be creative," a hip-hop artist who joined the Haven five years ago, Patrick Noth, said. As a result, the 28-year-old rapper and music producer said he abstains from lyrics that glorify violence or objectify women.
Another Haven participant, Kirsten Wylie, an actress, said she avoids nude scenes. "There's a lot out there I don't want to be part of, because I don't want to say to the world that it's okay," Ms. Wylie, 25, said. "Being a Christian does make me think twice about the roles I take. It's a tough balancing act between holding true to what you believe, and fighting for a good opportunity."