Green Acres Baptist Church will attempt to evangelize to people who attend all kinds of events in the CrossWalk Center ballroom. But the church will do it without anyone saying a word.
The hallway outside the ballroom, which is used throughout the year by many organizations, faith-based or not, now features 16 pieces of Renaissance art depicting the life of Christ.
“During the Renaissance and before, most people were illiterate,” said David Dykes, senior pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church. “They couldn’t read the Bible. Art was the main way the Gospel was explained. Artists had more of an influence on theology than the priests did.”
The 16 pieces are all replicas — some of the originals are near priceless, Dykes said. The prints were paid for by an anonymous couple in the congregation.
“They wanted us to have a visual way to tell the Gospel,” he said.
Each print has a plaque next to it giving the name of the piece, who painted it and where the original was located. The plaques also include Bible verses corresponding with the story being depicted and the pastor’s comments.
Dykes did post-doctoral work at Cambridge University in Religious Renaissance Art, so he was knowledgeable about the scope of work from the time.
“Some I had in mind already,” he said. “The challenge was finding 16 different artists. None of these are painted by the same person. I had fun choosing them.”
A few of the pieces might be familiar to those with a knowledge of religious art, but Dykes chose to forgo one of the most famous paintings from the period. Instead of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” he chose “The Last Holy Communion” painted in 1528 by lesser-known Pieter Coecke van Aelst.
“We could have done ‘The Last Supper,’ but everyone’s seen that,” he said.
The other pieces are:
- Gerard van Honthorst’s 1622 “Adoration of the Shepherds”
- Jean Auguste Dominique’s 1861 “Jesus Among the Doctors”
- Paolo Veronese’s 1563 “The Wedding Feast at Cana”
- Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn’s 1633 “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee”
- Lodovico Carracci’s 1594 “The Transfiguration of Christ”
- Luca Giordano’s 1674 “Christ Expelling the Traders from the Temple”
- Hans Jordaens III’s 1632 “Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane”
- Valentin de Boulogne’s 1620 “The Crowning with Thorns”
- Antonello da Messina’s 1475 “Christ at the Column”
- Gerard David’s 1481 “Christ Nailed to the Cross”
- Diego Velazquez’s 1630 “Christ on the Cross”
- Jacopo Bassano’s 1610 “The Entombment of Christ”
- Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s 1658 “The Resurrection of Christ”
- Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s 1602 “The Incredulity of Thomas”
- Jean François de Troy’s 1721 “Ascension of Christ.”
The art has been up for a few weeks in the church, and Dykes said the reactions have all been positive.
“Everybody who’s seen it has loved it,” Dykes said. “People see it on Sunday, and say they want to come back later to really look and read everything.”