A new mural has been created for Kent Lutheran Church by local Artist Susan Bagrationoff.

This colorful, 8′ x 8′ creation has been installed over the original stained glass work that this mural was inspired by. Stop by the church to check it out in person (you cannot see all the cool textures in the photo).

The original stained glass art.

Susan Bagrationoff’s replacement mural.

Artist Susan Bagrationof

Pastor Linda Stockham approached Bagrationoff, telling her that she wanted to board up/over a stained glass window in fear that it would be broken due to recent vandalism at the church by unsheltered neighbors. This is a temporary mural which was created in the likeliness of the original stained glass window.

Bagrationoff says that the project took two weeks to complete, from wood drop off to pickup.

“I wanted to expedite the project to safeguard the window, as did Pastor Linda,” she said.

Also, the mural is intended to be “interactive.” Church leaders hope to get hand prints on the lower ribbons of the mural by parisioners, unsheltered neighbors, and others to show community support in the hopes to “keep the peace in the area.”

“After four broken windows (over several weeks’ time), we became concerned for our stained-glass window facing Second Avenue,” Pastor Linda said. “The theme for the original stained-glass art project was voted on by the congregation: ‘God Welcomes All.’ Through a series of design sessions with our consulting artist, the late Joseph Hester, a team of people discussed what symbolizes ‘God,’ ‘welcomes,’ and ‘all.’ The symbols were incorporated into the overall design and the picture was divided into twelve frames to be worked on by different teams. The church library became the workshop and teams were taught the skills needed. There were 60 participants in the design and manufacturing process from Kent Lutheran and the greater Kent community. Finally, frames were combined as a beautiful window speaking, ‘God Welcomes All.'”

Following unrest and destructive actions in downtown Kent, neighboring partners chose different means of protection, Pastor Linda added. Cameras were installed and windows were boarded. When the time came to protect our art window, church leaders wrestled with stopping the “welcoming” message with protective board covering.

“The idea surfaced to keep the welcoming message loud and clear by commissioning Susan Bagrationoff, of Artsy Fartsy Art Lessons, to create a mural,” she said. “As a downtown Kent business neighbor with a deep compassion for others, she would understand our struggle to be simultaneously protective and welcoming.”

Bagrationoff patterned her mural after the original stained glass art, with a desire to once again present a welcoming message. In addition, she created the mural with open paths or ribbons extending out from the center. On these paths community persons are invited to put a painted handprint. All are welcome to do so. At the Kent Community Supper on Monday, Aug. 10, some handprints were added. Paint is available in the Church Office from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday – Friday for anyone and everyone to add their symbol of welcome and community to Kent Lutheran’s welcoming window.

“It was a challenging project to take on considering I wanted to be sure to capture the origibal artist’s concept yet incorporate a sense of community into one rather larger creation,” Bagrationoff added.

Kent Lutheran Church is located at 336 2nd Ave S. in downtown Kent (map below) and has been for 131 years.

“During the pandemic more homeless neighbors have gathered in this central area of Kent,” Pastor Linda said. “Some are our friends and respect our property and our appreciative of our work with feeding and networking needs. Some don’t have a positive regard for anything. And some are new to Kent and do not understand our strong sense of caring community.”

“Join with the heart and message of Kent Lutheran Church. God does welcome all.”