The Good Shepherd

I have taken my appreciation for church art and photography to  a new level.  A few years ago I came across a print at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Plainview, Nebraska that I really liked.  It was entitled "Feed My Sheep" and was the work of Kathryn Andrews Fincher.  Here is a photo I took of Fincher's print:

I began to think about this image more often and wondered if I could insert my granddaughters into a similar picture.  I imagined the Good Shepherd window from my home church in Albion, Nebraska and Emma, Cora, and Olivia looking up at it.  The United Methodists in Albion have a very unique window and I believe it is inspired by these words from John 10: "The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep hear his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...again Jesus said to them 'Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep...I am the Good Shepherd.'"

I now own a copy of The Light of the World or Our Savior In Art, published by the British-American Company in 1899.  It has nearly 100 reproductions of religious engravings accompanied by scripture references and narratives containing artist information and interpretations of the original paintings.  Among these is the print to the left.  I have discovered the artist who inspired this window was Sybil C. Parker, a British citizen, born in 1860.  She had at least two other paintings of note - "The Blessed Birds" and "Salvator Mundi."   I am looking for more information about her.  She called her Good Shepherd rendition, "The Door of the Fold."  

Click on image to read this narrative.

Parker's window can be found at The Campus Church at Stanford University:

                                                                                                   An original painting of Parker's work was recently sold at auction:
I took this picture at the Stanford Memorial Church in October 2015.

Back to my decision to have a painting commissioned -  I thought about my long-time friend, Randel Anderson, an artist living in Norfolk, Nebraska.  I was pretty sure Randel could create what I wanted.  In mid-March of 2011 I brought my various pictures to Randel and we discussed the possibilities.  A while later he sent me some sketches.  The girls' portraits were not fitting in with the window very well.  I had given Randel three individual pictures of the girls at different ages and it just didn't look right to me.  So I decided to try this one from September of 2006 when Emma was 8, Cora 6, and Olivia a little past two years old:

Randel emailed me some more sketches and I made another suggestion or two and he thought we could do this or that to make it better.  I was feeling pretty good about the project.



Good Shepherd Window at the First Presbyterian 
Church in downtown Wichita, Kansas.

I've also discovered "The Door of the Fold" can be found in these places (hope to visit each of these in the near future):
The First Presbyterian Church in Orange, Texas
The First Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana:
State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol, Virginia:
First Christian Church of Hammond, Louisiana:
Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church,  Montgomery,  Alabama:

In watching the Superman movie, Man of Steel, I discovered another Parker window quite by accident.  It's in the United Methodist Church in Plano, Illinois.                                                                                                                                                   

Here is the finished painting in oil.  Randel calls it "She Ain't Heavy."
  We couldn't be more pleased!
click on image to enjoy it even more

I have known Randel Anderson since 1962.  We attended Nebraska Wesleyan together and we both served as pastors in the Nebraska United Methodist conference for several years.  We've traveled some very interesting paths together and separately these past fifty years.  I highly recommend Randel's artistic talents to anyone.