Liturgical/Visual Arts

Peace Cranes - a Peace by Piece Art Installation at First Pres

Debuted on Sunday September 19, enjoy the beautiful display of thousands of hand folded (by members of our church) Peace Cranes hanging from the beams in our sanctuary.  Each has handwritten on it a member name and a prayer for them.  It is a stunning display of love and peace for our congregation.

Why origami cranes? Early in 1955, a twelve-year-old girl named Sadako Sasaki developed leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation from the nuclear bomb dropped on her hometown, Hiroshima, at the end of World War II. Visiting her in the hospital, Sadako’s best friend reminded her of the Japanese legend that, if she could fold one thousand cranes, her wish to be made well might be granted.

Stories differ as to whether Sadako was able to finish one thousand cranes before her death in October 1955, or whether her friends completed the task in her memory. Regardless, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane now stands in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and, every day, cranes arrive from people all over the world who hope and pray and work for peace. Like Sadako’s cranes, the exact number of First Pres’ cranes is unknown. We estimate it to be more than 3500. Many thanks to all who prayed these three-dimensional prayers and helped create our art installation that can now inspire us all to serve the Prince of Peace.

40: The Gospels40: The Gospels

All are welcome to enjoy the First Pres Art Exhibit in the Social Hall.  We are featuring the artist Joel Schoon-Tanis "40: The Gospels".   The colors the artist uses are bright and beautiful, and tell the story of the gospels in a beautiful way.  Enjoy!




End PaintingApproaching the world through a childlike lens, Joel Schoon-Tanis juxtaposes realistic images and whimsical kid drawings in retelling the Gospels. The result lets him shed fresh light on these centuries’ old stories, inviting the viewer to think in new ways as well. Over his 30-year professional art career, Schoon-Tanis has often explored Biblical themes. His love of animals and children initially had him painting a lot of Noah’s Ark! Soon he started exploring other stories, which led to the illustration of the NIrV Kids’ Study Bible.

In 2015 he took on the entire Biblical narrative in his first large format art book, “40: The Biblical Story.” In the years since the first “40”, Schoon-Tanis has taken multiple trips to the Holy Land, and these trips piqued his interest in diving deeper into the Gospel narratives. Specifically, he became interested in the different viewpoints and themes taken by the different Gospel writers. And so a new set of 40 images was born. Through fun, color, and whimsy, this collection will take viewers, both young and old, through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in new ways. The paintings will inspire both joy and inspiration.

About Joel…

Joel Schoon-Tanis has been a working artist for 30 years. That means he has made a lot of art, as well as shown it all over the world. Joel has written and illustrated over a dozen books (recently “At Psalm’s School” and “At God’s Table”), painted murals all over the U.S.A. as well as in Kenya, Zambia, and the Separation Wall in Palestine, and painted nearly a gazillion pieces of “fine art.” His work is in churches, children’s hospitals, schools, restaurants, businesses and many private collections. In 2016 one of his images was presented to the Pope.

In 2017 he joined international artists in Leipzig, Germany to create art during a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Sometimes people lure him out to talk about the creative life (among other things). He lives in Holland, Michigan with his super smart wife Kathy, PhD., and creative, clever girls Harper and Beatrix.

Current Virtual Art Exhibit at First Pres:

"The Peace of the Earth" the art of Joan Cohen Jones

My interest in art began very early - in kindergarten.  One day I was bored and looking for something interesting to do, so I decided to finger paint but with my elbows.  When the paper dried, my painting looked amazingly like morning glories.  My teacher was so impressed that she called the principal who came down to our classroom and asked me to explain how I had created this painting.  My Mom framed the picture and it still hangs in my home.

I loved to draw and color, and from an early age I sketched portraits and models from fashion magazines.  I used pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and pastels at home and paints in school.  I was always encouraged by my Mom who was a talented artist but never had the chance to go to art school.  Art was a way for me to escape my less-than-ideal home life.  I spent many happy hours drawing and coloring and wanted to become and artist. I stopped doing art when I entered high school because I was so busy with academics. 

For the next 50 years I never drew or painted, but always loved art and collected the work of others.  Then about seven years ago I was on sabbatical to write the second edition of my textbook.  The publisher changed his mind about the second edition, which was actually a big relief, and I had a semester free.  So I decided to take a watercolor course.  I knew nothing about watercolor, but my childhood friend had started painting in watercolor and recommended it.  I was surprised to realize how difficult watercolor was for me.  I struggled with it for a few years and tried different teachers.  But even when I sturggled, and was unhappy with the results.  I still enjoyed the process and never thought about giving up.  Over the last few years, I have been fortunate to find some wonderful teachers who have helped me grow.  For the last year and a half I have been a member of an online group led by a well-known English watercolorist, Geoff Kersey.  Many of the paintings here are based on his tutorials.

One of the reasons I love watercolor is because when I am painting, the world goes away.  It is my meditation.  I think of nothing other than the paint I am mixing and applying to the paper.  That's a wonderful feeling.  I hope you enjoy looking at my paintings and get the same sense of peace I do from painting tham. 

- Joan Jones

Joan's virtual gallery exhibit can be accessed here.

Opportunities to Serve

Would you like to serve on the liturgical/visual arts team?  We plan for our worship spaces and rotating art exhibits in our Social Hall.  The team meets the second Tuesday of the month, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. via ZOOM.   

For more information, contact Dave VanderMeer, Minister of Music & Fine Arts: