St. Lorenz [https://stlorenz.org/] is a Lutheran church located in Frankenmuth, Michigan. This historic Gothic church is filled with beautiful examples of visual faith – brilliant stained glass windows, wood carvings, and other creative expressions that visually honor God and convey the truths of His Word. Recently, a prayer trail was completed with the involvement of some of our Visual Faith™ Ministry Artists. We hope that sharing the story of this project – and their goal to let each person know that God loves them - might inspire others. Here is their story:
Many years ago, a hiking trail was blazed in the church’s wooded campground area known as “Churchgrove Park.” During the 90's, several Eagle Scouts and church volunteers marked a path with entrance gates and wooden posts. Then in 2005, a camper remarked to caretaker Ron Heinlein, “Thanks so much for the beautiful prayer trail!” He shared that remark with the vicar (now Rev. Michael Goers), who wrote the three original prayers - to Father, Son, and Spirit – which are part of the trail signs today.
About 2 year ago, the prayer committee brainstormed on how to make "a place for all" to meet God in thought and prayer. The committee loved the idea of making the trail a destination and gift to the whole community and the many visitors who come to visit Frankenmuth throughout the year. (Frankenmuth is a nationally known destination as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria, with 3 million visitors a year – and faith is definitely a part of what this community is committed to share! https://www.frankenmuth.org/).
Original posts were counted and current pastor, Rev. Shawn Fenske created an acrostic - "The Lord is Here" – and words were added for each letter to focus on an area of prayer that all could use to meditate and pray. Their focus was for all to “meet God wherever you are at in your life.” Committee member Laura Weiss called in help from many friends, including Patty Glass, a mixed media faith artist and Pat Maier, a Visual Faith™ Ministry artist.
This project was a collaborative effort as God brought people forward to help: Rev. Bob Smith suggested Scripture verses for each word, friends helped Laura connect to Visual Faith™ artists and other artists who contributed, and an 8th grade girls’ Bible class brainstormed to come up with the word “Integrity!” Paul LaBrenz, member and owner of SignPal, made it possible to put the art onto weather-friendly, hard plastic signs. A church group called "Willing Workers" put up the signs, built benches, and painted. It was a collective work of love!
Here are just a few of the signs along the prayer trail .....
..... artists were given scripture verses to meditate and reflect on to inspire a visual response to God's Word - to provide a visual memory for each trail-walker of time spent in conversation with the Lord. Original calligraphy was added by lettering artists.
This video includes the signs of the prayer walk as well as some of visual beauty of our Creator God that might be seen along the way:
Perhaps one of the most striking signs is from an artist named Alberto who lives in Puerto Rico. The title of his artwork is “El doctor esta trabajando” or “The doctor is working”. Alberto created this piece to represent Jesus holding the world during the early days of the pandemic, where Laura saw it in a Facebook post…..and “social media friend” Rachel Hinz helped her to locate the artist and permission was secured to use his work. It is an image that will speak of God’s love for our sin-sick world through all days to come!
And as you leave the trail, the images of artist Dave O’Connell on the Lord’s Prayer sign (lettering by Pat Maier) and the banner, “I Am With You” are a reminder of God’s provision and that He is always with us. These memorable images are like a tiny billboard in the minds of visitors, to take with them wherever they might live - an encouragement of hope for daily life!
Laura says, “It has been very exciting to be a part of this ministry and to see the progress and the people who have started to walk the trail. Though we may never really know the impact that it continues to make on those who experience it, we know that God has blessed this trail in so many ways already and will continue to bless it in the years to come!
…..and when I asked Laura what the main purpose was for the trail, she responded:
“For the community. A peaceful place to walk with Jesus...and a dog.”
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We acknowledge that all art created with God-given talent to draw attention to and reflect the grace and love of our amazing God is "visual faith." We would like to recognize the artist contributors to this
prayer trail - those who are listed with VFM following their name are also
some of our Visual Faith™ Ministry artists.