Tag Archives: Brother Francis Shelter

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.

Anchorage Thanksgiving is cornucopia of community effort

This coming Thursday, Thanksgiving will be celebrated across the U.S. Our community goes out of its way to ensure everyone has a place at the table for a hearty and filling Thanksgiving meal. One way this is accomplished is through the local Thanksgiving Blessing, coordinated by the Food Bank of Alaska with the support of the local faith and nonprofit community. Over 8,000 families will be served in this year’s Thanksgiving Blessing in Anchorage, with an additional 2,000 in the Valley.

Thanksgiving meals, including turkey and all the fixings, will be distributed Monday, at six Anchorage locations. From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. families in need can go to the following locations (based on zip codes; visit foodbankofalaska.org or call 211 for more information):

Crosspoint Church at the Burlington Coat Factory mall on Dimond Boulevard
New Season Christian Center at Spenard Recreation Center, 2020 West 48th Ave.
Central Lutheran Church, Cordova Street and 15th Avenue
St. Patrick’s Church, 2111 Muldoon Road
Joy Lutheran Church, 10111 E. Eagle River Loop Road
From noon to 8 p.m., Mountain View Community Center, 315 N. Price, off of Mountain View Drive

Mike Miller, executive director of Food Bank of Alaska, underscored the broad base of support, saying, “Each one of these partners is partnering with many other community organizations and churches to make this happen with money, commodities and volunteers. The entire Southcentral Alaska area pulls together to make this happen.”

This is in significant contrast to the manufactured buying frenzy that begins that day, and the next, Black Friday, with families plunging further into debt to supply gifts their kids and families do not really need, financed by firms all too ready to help satisfy consumers with credit, layaways and high-priced merchandise.

Local examples of stores bucking the trend to open on Thanksgiving are: Babies R Us, Cabela’s, Costco, Game Stop, H&M, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Nordstrom, Pier 1 Imports, Petco, REI, Sam’s Club, Staples and TrueValue. Additionally, REI has courageously decided employees and family life are more important than opening on Black Friday. According to SHRM.org, a professional human resources organization, “most businesses (76 percent) plan to be closed on the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 27.”

Some organizations suggest Black Friday and Cyber Monday lessen charitable giving at this time of year. A national effort, Giving Tuesday (givingtuesday.org), has arisen to counter these big consumer spending days with charitable giving on Dec. 1. It’s been building steam, now claiming a 470 percent increase in online donations since 2012, and counts more than 30,000 partners in 68 countries. Clearly an effort like this cannot hope to cultivate  the level of awareness among consumers generated by the  advertising efforts of ravenous retailers.

The evening before Thanksgiving, the Interfaith Council of Anchorage will hold its annual Thanksgiving Gathering at First Congregational Church at 7 p.m., featuring music and reflections from Anchorage’s many faith traditions followed by a reception with light snacks.

Muldoon Community Assembly (mcaonline.org) is the only church I located offering family and friends dinner and a wide variety of activities throughout the day on Thanksgiving Day. Activities start with karaoke at 11 a.m., and dinner is served at noon. This reflects the true spirit of early Thanksgivings celebrated by the pilgrims.

When I caught up with senior pastor, the Rev. Kent Redfearn, I discovered it goes deeper than that. He grew up in Barrow, where he learned the importance of feasts, recalling several times a year the whole village stopped and had a feast. Moving to Anchorage for ninth grade, he noted a lack of feasting. Everyone seemed to be isolated in their homes for holidays like Thanksgiving. Redfearn related that the Bible notes seven feasts, and joined this to the Inupiat feast concept. He further noted the New Testament contains accounts of Jesus performing miracles at feasts, where everyone was included.

“The prayer that Jesus taught us to pray starts with ‘our,’ not ‘I,’” Redfearn said. “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit was the first community, and the essence of faith is to live that type of community. The theology of ‘at table’ is powerful. In Psalm 23, it says ‘Thou preparest a table before me.’” Muldoon Community Assembly is to be commended for its inclusiveness and community sharing. Wouldn’t it be great to see a few more churches following its fine example?

According to  Lisa Sauder, executive director of Bean’s Cafe, donations have been down substantially, despite an ongoing need for gloves, hats, hand-warmers, and socks due to the cold temperatures. Coffee, tea and toilet paper are especially needed. They’ve started offering hot oatmeal in the mornings when normally a cold breakfast is served. Additionally, an afternoon snack of soup for core intake is being offered. They expect to serve up to 1,200 meals starting at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Over 80 people have been sheltering overnight at Bean’s, where 400 meals are served for breakfast. Bean’s posts critical needs on facebook.com/beanscafe on Thursdays.

“We couldn’t keep our doors open without the support of the community,” says Lisa. “If you’re unable to drop off donated items directly at Bean’s, they can also be dropped off at Tastee Freez (at Jewel Lake and Raspberry roads) or SoYo Yogurt Shoppe on Huffman Road. You can also donate funds online.”

The Downtown Soup Kitchen serves lunches Monday through Friday. “This year DSK is very thankful that we can provide a cold weather shelter for homeless women starting Nov. 30,” Sherrie Laurie, executive director, says “It has been a long process to get the permitting to do this but we are finally ready to open and provide a warm, safe shelter for these women.”

Other religious organizations also provide meals and shelter for those needing assistance: Brother Francis Shelter, Gospel Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army. Your financial help is critical at this time as well.

I’m pleased with the strides the Anchorage faith and nonprofit community has taken to provide assistance to all over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith on his blog, churchvisits.com.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.