For nearly 40 years, an Anchorage artist — with the help of her church — has used her work to fight world hunger

Marianne Wieland, a well-known Anchorage artist, has been quietly using her art to produce unique, limited-edition prints each year for the past 38 years. The prints are sold through her church, Gloria Dei Lutheran, and 100 percent of the sale price is donated to addressing world hunger.

So far, not including this year’s new print, more than $275,000 has been raised for this project. Proceeds go locally to Lutheran Social Services of Alaska, Brother Francis Shelter, Bean’s Cafe and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America world hunger initiatives.

A Gloria Dei member since 1976, Wieland got the idea during an adult Bible class led by the former Rev. Rick Halvorson. In 1979, Halvorson posed a question to the class about which subject to tackle next; a nurse suggested world hunger. Halvorson noted it would be a tough one to tackle due to difficulty of one person making a difference with such a huge and worldwide issue. But Marianne had an idea.

Volunteers are crucial for the success of this project. “When I started this project, I used volunteers to help me produce the prints to keep the production costs down,” Wieland explained. “The volunteers all came from Lutheran Churches and we have become a family of friends. Jo Ann Mueller, from Zion Lutheran, has helped me produce prints since 1982. When a volunteer first comes, they start by soaking and blotting the papers and cranking the plate through the printing press. As they get familiar with the process, they work up into more difficult tasks, the most difficult being the rolling of ink onto the printing plate. The production of the prints is a time consuming process as each print is inked individually and run through the etching press.”

Each print is related to a biblical theme.

“The images and wording usually don’t come together,” Wieland said. “For example, next year’s print image will be the result of an inspiration I received from a small soapstone figurine that Bishop Shelley Wickstrom presented to me last year at the Synod Assembly in Wasilla.

“The theme to go with it came from an inspiration from our pastor Mark Orf, when he shared that, during his Shishmaref village time, the congregation loved the song and dance as part of their religious experience. The print will expand the soapstone figure into three singer/dancers with the addition of much color. The wording was inspired by a song that Jan Whitefield (Gloria Dei member) sang one service: ‘I’ll lead you all in the dance, said He.’ So this print will come from a combination of three sources.”

Each year Marianne Wieland creates a print to fight world hunger. This year’s is titled “Mother and Child.”
Each year Marianne Wieland creates a print to fight world hunger. This year’s is titled “Mother and Child.”

Each year’s print has varied in size. The initial 1979 print, titled “The Christmas Story,” measured 15 by 22 inches, while this year’s print, “Mother and Child,” measures 7.5 by 7.5 inches. Colors are blended to create a harmonious effect in a process that combines relief printing, embossing and intaglio.

This year’s edition is limited to 300 signed and numbered prints. Prints may be purchased after 9:30 a.m. service on Nov. 20 at Gloria Dei at 8427 Jewel Lake Road. The service concludes at about 10:30 a.m. A full-color book displaying all the prints by year was also created this year. The prints and books are $30 each while available.

I purchased a print and companion book of this year’s print last Sunday at Gloria Dei’s 50th anniversary celebration, Wieland will be available after services to personally autograph books. (An order form is available here.)

Gloria Dei celebrates 50th anniversary

Last Sunday I was warmly greeted at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church as I arrived to join with the congregation in celebrating their 50th anniversary. During my past visits I’ve found that ELCA Lutheran churches are friendly and do a much better job of welcoming visitors than most other churches. Their members are never shy and will introduce themselves to newcomers as they would with their regular church friends. The church was packed with many former pastors and friends joining them to celebrate this important anniversary, and to rededicate themselves and their church to the years that lie ahead.

The platform participants included Bishop Shelley Wickstrom of the ELCA Alaska Synod, current pastor Mark Orf and Gloria Dei’s first pastor, Rod Kastelle. A special liturgy had been created for this auspicious day. As the service progressed, I noticed a mix of all ages in the sanctuary. Entire families were present and were quiet and respectful.

Lutheran liturgies, essentially an order of worship, usually incorporate the elements of confession, sharing of the peace, prayers, hymns, choral presentations, a first reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a second reading from the New Testament, a Gospel reading, Communion, blessing, Benediction and a sending hymn.

Beginning his sermon by rereading the second reading, the Rev. Kastelle had much emotion in his voice as the words flowed. The reading, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, has Paul briefly recounting his life before Christ, and afterward when God’s grace was poured out on him abundantly. Kastelle’s remarks were basically confined to the events leading to the placement of Gloria Dei at this site, and its subsequent growth. He also recognized a number of individuals who were instrumental in this process.

A number of former Gloria Dei clergy were recognized by the Rev. Mark Orf, including his immediate predecessor, the Rev. Scott Fuller, interim pastor Al Solmonson and intern Jeff Wile. Kastelle was Gloria Dei’s first pastor and presided from 1965 to 1979. Before Communion, Orf and Wickstrom led the congregation through a rededication liturgy.

Gloria Dei provides a sanctuary designed to enhance worship. From the 1889 stained-glass window in the front of the church featuring Jesus, the good shepherd, to the contemporary wood beams and wooden pews, this church implies reverence.

The music, the warmth and the spirit of Christian hospitality permeated Gloria Dei’s sanctuary this day. I’m glad I was able to be a part of their celebration. I congratulate them on their Christian charity, especially their art project addressing world hunger. Each week approximately 50 churches close across the U.S. This church will certainly not be one of them.

One thought on “For nearly 40 years, an Anchorage artist — with the help of her church — has used her work to fight world hunger

  1. Mary Ann Solmonson

    Beautiful article. It was a wonderful time for me and my husband to celebrate with the members of Gloria Dei. Here is a little history of the stain glass windows, alter, pulpit, and bell. The all came from my home church in Howard, South Dakota. It was an Episcopal church built in 1898. All of the Windows, altar, pulpit and lectern were in the building when it was consecrated in 1902. My husband Rick Halvorson and I bought the church, when it was ready to disband. At the time we were building the new sanctuary at Gloria Dei. We gave the church these stain glass windows and the furniture to be used in the new church. The women of the church in the Trinity Guild presented the church with the Jesus the Good Schepard window in 1889.Trinity Episcopal church is still greeting those who come for worship, through the windows and furniture.

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