Clergy Appreciation Month: Artists Use Their Gifts
October is Clergy Appreciation Month and the North Georgia Conference has approximately 1,300 reasons (and people) to celebrate. North Georgia clergy serve in local churches, as chaplains, as missionaries, as campus ministers, in hospitals, in our related agencies, and beyond. This month we will lift up a few who are doing something inspiring, have a unique talent, or who you might just want to get to know!
Hugh Hendrickson: Painter
Rev. Hugh Hendrickson is a pastor at Greensboro UMC. Many know of the adventures Hugh has with his dog, Rev, but did you know he is also a skilled painter?
How long have you been painting?
I've been drawing and painting since childhood. I got in trouble for selling drawings of Mario from Super Mario Brothers when I was in 4th grade. I took a few art lessons as a kid but I didn't like the teacher. I thought she was trying to stifle my creativity. All I wanted to draw were gangsters from the Dick Tracy movie and she wouldn't let me do that. Looking back, I see she was actually trying to broaden my creativity.
I just got back to painting and drawing as a hobby four years ago or so. When I lived in Comer, the church participated in the Madison County Fair. The 4-H gave ribbons and prize money for all sorts of art projects. The next year I had a few submissions. I won a few ribbons and enough prize money to pay for funnel cake and a corn dog. One year I won first prize for decorated gourds. The previous year there was only one entry for decorative gourds. She just painted her gourd crimson Red and painted an Alabama A on it. I guess I can say it wasn't much competition since Bishop Watson (an Alabama fan) is retired.
2. Why do you enjoy painting?
You get behind that canvas and forget all the things that can make a preacher worry. If I'm not careful time gets away from me. Art gives you an opportunity to create. I can paint what I want. I’m not trying to be a famous artist or sell my works on QVC. It's relaxing and fulfilling.
3. Do you feel that painting provides any sort of spiritual connection, or helps you in your ministry?
I was able to take art electives in undergrad. Not too many art classes in Seminary. And my dorm room was too small for an easel. So I funneled my creativity into sermons.
I'm painting lots of miniatures now. These paintings are about the size of a business card. It's a bit tedious but I can do them in less than an hour. They make a great insert into a handwritten note to a clergy friend or church member.
Rev Dr Bill Burch (Lawrenceville First) preached at Salem Camp Meeting this year. He did a fine job. It was his first year. I hope he can return in the future. I made him a cross with Salem sawdust and a painting of the tabernacle at Salem. I wrote a short poem on the back. I mailed it to him a few weeks after Salem. Hopefully he didn't put it in a church yard sale or an eBay auction.
I will be giving my friend Dr John Beyers a small painting of Grace UMC in Atlanta. He served grace for 10 years. He said he didn't have a picture or painting of the church that has a special place in his heart. So I felt moved to paint a small gift.
A church member donated a carillon for the bell tower at our south campus at Greensboro. This was a memorial gift for her late husband. She is moving soon, so I will be finishing up a small painting of that tower for her. I know it is special to her.
C. Kay Fuino – Quilt Maker
Rev. C. Kay Fuino is the pastor of Outreach and Member Involvement at Duluth First UMC. She has been quilting since 2003!
1. How did you get into quilt making?
I started quilting after a group of women in our church began our “Prayers and Squares” quilt ministry. They make prayer quilts for people who need prayers because of illness, surgery or other medical issues. We began in 2003 and have given out more than 1000 quilts all over the United States and some other countries. I was in seminary at Candler when it began and the women were my friends before they were my congregation. I knew how to sew and soon they talked me into learning to quilt. I joined them for a “Saturday Sampler” group at a local quilt shop and just never stopped. Since that time I’ve made quilts for all but the newest of my grandchildren, for my mom’s 90th birthday, my kids and friends. It is a hobby that allows me to focus on something different because I have to pay attention to what I’m cutting and sewing. I still quilt with these women and they are a most wonderful Christian group. I don’t do the final quilting, I do the piecing of the tops, give them to one of our group who quilts the top to backing on her big long-arm machine and then I finish them. It is so neat to see them all finished and then used by people.
There is also a camaraderie among quilters. We love to share our patterns, our “tools” of the trade: rulers, rotary cutters, pin cushions, seam rippers and other fun things. If we can help another person take on this addiction to fabric we will give them parts of our “stash” to get them started and teach them along the way. My friend Rev. Beth is hooked now and for me to see her joy when she finishes a project is almost my own joy.
2. What has been your favorite project so far?
I love all my quilts but the joy on the faces of my grandchildren when they have opened their quilts and then to see them use them for sleeping almost every night makes me so happy. My own favorite quilt is a bright colored one of floral fabrics –simply because it is different from the more traditional ones I usually make.
3. Does this hobby help in your ministry in any way?
Absolutely. A quilt is made up of so many different pieces, shapes and colors. Even with a pattern you never know what you will actually see until it is finished. I think it is a lot like a congregation for a pastor. All the members are different, with patterns of life that fit together to make something wonderful. We never really know what each year will show us until we take the time to step back and look at how it all lays out together. Sometimes there are frayed edges that need mending, sometimes there are bright colors and sometimes there are deep places that make us question why that piece is included. Quilts keep us warm when we wrap them around us but you can always feel the seams that hold each little piece together.
I believe that at the end of my time of ministry I’ll be able to look at the quilt of my life in ministry and see the pattern that God called me to piece together. It will be exciting to see what quilting pattern God chooses to stitch the front to the backing and then how I will add the binding to complete it all.
Susan Landry – Singer
Rev. Susan Landry preaches at Mt. Zion UMC in Marietta, but she sings with the Michael McNeal singers at Roswell UMC. She was once even a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus!
1. What singing groups are you in and why?
Presently I sing in the Michael O'Neal singers which rehearse at Roswell UMC. I also sing in their elite ensemble group, called Kaleidoscope. Before that, I sang with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus--I loved both. But ministry keeps me busy, and I live much closer to Roswell UMC than Symphony Hall. (Atlanta traffic!)
Another thing I love about the Michael O'Neal Singers is that we sing such a variety of music--it never gets old! We always bring a Christmas concert, but in other parts of the year we bring themes such as Irish Heritage music, Music Fit for a King, and Broadway Musical Hits from the past 25 years (such as Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Le Miserable, Rent).
2. What do you like most about singing?
According to my parents, who are also singers, I have been singing since before I could talk. They have often teased me that they knew I was a soprano when I was still an infant. I would awaken them at 2:00 am with a high C, announcing the time for my feeding. Apparently that was hard to ignore--and one might question whether that is a gift or not. But today I would say that singing is a gift that I was given, and the expression of that gift (and as I matured, the sharing of that gift) has always brought me joy. I find singing a challenge and a reward, simultaneously.
3. How does singing help you in your ministry?
It is important to me to sing in groups, not just to sing solos, because the making of music with others forms a connection that produces a sound that is far bigger than the simple sum total of our voices. The qualities of harmony and unity in song, whether in a choir rehearsal or while we sings hymns in worship, infuse within us a connection to what is eternal. The presence of God, a sense of the Holy Spirit, is sometimes more easily experienced in music than even in the spoken word. As I preach, there are times when the singing of an old familiar hymn tune grounds a point in my sermon, or brings it to life.
And on the personal side, being a part of the Mt. Zion UMC chancel choir enables me to be playful, to feel that I can be Susan, a singer, a musician, and not only the Senior Pastor. The balance of this sort of personal joy with the role of being pastor is important for me as I seek to live fully, abundantly, as both a child of God and a minister of the Gospel.