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LCR Cincinnnati Holds Prayer Vigil and Creates Mural in Recognition of Gulf Coast

The following story is provided by Martha Newfield, member of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection.

Recently during the Gulf crisis, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Cincinnati Ohio wanted to make a lamentation in some way to the devastation that was going on as the result of the oil spill.  The moment needed to be held up to God in a special way since it was the largest natural disaster in our nation’s history.   Led by Pastor Henry Zorn, it was decided that on Sunday night, July 11, we would invite the entire township as well as all the churches to an outdoor Candlelight Prayer Vigil for the Gulf Oil Spill.

In addition, the Earth Ministry Team decided to invite contemplation and reflection on the deep sorrow and tragedy of the spill by engaging the entire congregation to join in the painting of a large outdoor mural depicting the oil spill.  Painting the mural in full public view on the side of the road would invite reflection by the passing cars on the tragedy of the oil spill.  Beginning July 5, scaffolding was erected facing the road on which a prepared canvas was placed.  The image of the mural was then drawn in by an artist and church members joined in the painting the image.

The theme of the mural came from the hymn “When Peace Like a River” and took the line “When Sorrows Like the Sea Billows Roll” as the theme of the image.  The mural included a giant wave on the left that included ribbons of black oil that came from the burning oil rig painted in on the right.  As the wave crashed on to the beach it was shown to begin killing sea animals such as the fish, sea turtles and the great Brown Pelican that were overcome by the slick and gooey oil.

Many church members were enthusiastic about joining in the painting of the mural.  Senior citizens, college students and teenagers made their thoughtful and carefully painted contributions to the completion of the mural.   Upon completion, the mural was hung facing the road for all to see with a clear message of haunting discord for which our demand for oil had contributed.

Gulf Coast LCR MuralAs the finished mural hung, other signs and notices invited people to the outdoor candlelight vigil to pray for restoration and forgiveness for the death of 11 people and the destruction of an ecosystem as well as a way of life for many residents of the Gulf Coast.   The service was held in a nearby park around a large painting of a map of the Gulf Coast.  During the reading of scripture by several laypeople and clergy the audience was invited to light a candle for a person or city on the Gulf coast that needed our prayer.  After lighting the candle the participant could take a pen and write the prayer of their heart on the map in the area that was on their mind.

After the reading of the Word, Dr. Walter Bruggeman, nationally recognized scholar of the Old Testament delivered a powerful reflection on God’s attitude towards the earth and its care interpreting the passage from Jeremiah 4:23-26.

The service concluded with the final prayer from Psalms 8:3-9 : You give us a special role in this world, as those with power to care for all other creatures, but also with power to harm them.  In your care for us, give us strength to care for all the earth so that we may glorify your name.  Amen.

For a video of the painting and message of the mural go to:

The story was also covered by Cincinnati and Kentucky news agencies.  Click HERE to view the story online.