by Alyssa Kerns, Plains
Some blank walls just call out to be painted.
That’s what a group of members from Plains Mennonite Church (Hatfield, Pa.) decided in October 2010 as they walked through Plains Park, located next to the church, discussing how to enhance spirituality in the park. The blank wall of the kitchenette in the park was the perfect place for a mural. Since the wall faces the playground, the group chose the phrase “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.’” to guide the design.
Since Plains Park is a “place of peace in the community,” it felt right to invite children from the community to have a hand in the mural. In January 2012, Plains used newspaper ads, posters, and the internet to invite students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 in the North Penn and Souderton School Districts to submit a painting of Jesus with children from around the world to reflect the diversity of our community. In addition to choosing a grand prize, $500 winner for the mural design, Plains offered 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place cash prizes in three age categories.
Not knowing what kind of response to expect, we were excited to receive 19 submissions – all very creative. Renee Di Domizio, an art teacher at Pennbrook Middle School (North Penn), had even turned our mural invitation into an assignment for one of her 9th grade classes.
The artwork was judged by Pastor Dawn Ranck, Debbie McConnell, Joy Sawatzky, and Alyssa Kerns, all members at Plains, and by two art teachers, John Bratina from Penndale Middle School (North Penn) and Lisa Tinneny who lives in the North Penn School district and teaches at Wissahickon High School.
We announced the winners at an art show featuring all of the mural submissions on Saturday, April 28 at the church. One of the first artists to arrive was third grader Ava Fletcher. As she walked into the room with her family, she stopped suddenly, her face glowing with surprise, as she saw her painting with a Grand Prize Winner sign on it.
We are looking forward to painting the mural later this summer and hope many of the artists who submitted paintings will join us.
People were bringing little children to [Jesus] in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. . . . And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-14, 16)