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St Paul's Lutheran Church, ELCA ~ 420 West Avenue South ~ La Crosse, WI  54601 ~ (608) 784-2304 ~ stpaulslax@centurytel.net
 

St Pauls Lutheran Church AlterART AND ARCHITECTURE OF ST PAUL'S LUTHERAN CHURCH, ELCA

Comments on the Architecture

E.A. Sovik, Architect In conformity with the idea of the priesthood of all believers, the church is a one-room church where we hope that everyone will have the sense of being a participant rather than an observer - emphasized by the presence of candles in the chancel and along the west wall.  The suspended cross is not remote from the people but with them. St Pauls Lutheran Church ELCA artistic pulpit

The relation of the church of God to the world is also represented.  The congregation is gathered in the presence of God.  It is not the building that establishes this Presence; therefore we do not enclose the space as if it were to be separated from the world.  The world is God's, and when we worship the Creator we do not feel it necessary to exclude His created world from our vision.  We, the church, the people of God, do not wish to forget that we are here to serve in the world and do not wish to seclude ourselves from the mission field.  Finally, the church represents the Iron Cross at St Pauls Lutheran Church ELCA in La Crosse, WIgrace of God, free to all; the openness of the clear glass implies that there is no exclusiveness, but a general welcome to all.

Thirdly, worship is an activity through which we receive the gifts God has for us.  With this in mind, the church space has been designed to surround the people with evidence of God's love and his presence, which is with His people, not in front of them.

The altar is a table form.  It is the table of the Lord from whence the elements of the sacrament are dispersed.  The well, from whence comes the Living Water, is carved in the limestone font.  The suspended cross is the ancient Greek cross - a symbol of universality.

 

Damascus Illumination Cast Bronze Sculpture, 1966 Paul Granlund, Sculptor, 1925-2003Damascus Illumination
Cast Bronze Sculpture, 1966 Paul Granlund, Sculptor, 1925-2003

This work combines two figures; that of Christ, mounted on the wall, and of Paul, mounted on a pedestal below it.  The Christ figure forms the center of a burst of light, portraying God as the source of light and power.  At most times of day the face is shadowed, recalling the question "Who are you, Lord?"  The open arms of the risen Christ seem to draw Paul into an embrace.  Paul, in contrast, is shown struggling, at the moment of this fall, blinded by the vision of God's power, yet already attempting to right himself.  Paul is obviously undergoing trauma, tipped upside down psychologically and physically. /p>

Granlund explained that there is an underlying pattern of ovals and lines in the work.  The Christ figure is based on an elongated oval that is repeated both in the body and in the space it defines.  The line from the bent left leg of Paul pointing to the cross on the church building is evident when the piece is viewed from a distance.  A second line is set up by Paul's reaching right hand directing the viewer's eye back to Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13
Kasota Stone, 1956

St. Paul's words concerning love are carved into the exterior wall of the Parish House, facing West Avenue.  The symbols at the bottom are faith, hope and love.  John Maakestad worked with sculptor Arnold Flaten on this project.

Parable of the Sower Laminated Oak Pulpit, 1961 Arnold Flaten, Sculptor, 1900-1977 Parable of the Sower Laminated Oak Pulpit, 1961 Arnold Flaten, Sculptor, 1900-1977

The cylindrical oak pulpit carved in high relief illustrates the Parable of the Sower - a most fitting illustration for a pulpit from which the Word of God is preached./p>

Some of the sower's seeds fell on the path where the birds came and ate them up.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they sprang up quickly but, as they had no root, withered away in the scorching sun.  Yet others fell among thorns where they were choked out.  But the seeds that fell on good soil brought forth grain. With the word of God: some hear it, and it is immediately snatched away from them; others encounter difficulties and fall away or are lured away by the things of this world; but those who hear the word and accept it bear much fruit.

Psalm 51:10-12 Laminated White Oak Chapel Reredos, 1956 Arnold Flaten, Sculptor, 1900-1977

 

Psalm 51:10-12
Laminated White Oak Chapel Reredos, 1956 Arnold Flaten, Sculptor, 1900-1977

The words of Psalm 51 are illustrated with alternating panels depicting the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and human hands in response to the message.  The carved dove on the baptismal font echoes the wall symbolism.  The carved words on this same wall add more meaning to the symbols.

Baptismal Tapestry, 2004 Joyce Harter, Liturgical WeaverBaptismal Tapestry,
2004 Joyce Harter, Liturgical Weaver

The three persons of the Trinity are present in the baptismal service.  They come to us visually through the woven hanging - water striations, flames and descending dove represent the Trinity with echoes of colors from the stained glass windows.  The work was woven using the Theo Moorman technique. 

Stained Glass Windows Designed by Edward Sovik in consultation with The Willet Studios of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,1968 Stained Glass Windows Designed by Edward Sovik in consultation with The Willet Studios of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,1968

The five rows of windows are interrelated in content and are to be viewed as en ever-widening circle.  The center row symbolizes the table of Stained Glass Windows Designed by Edward Sovik in consultation with The Willet Studios of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,1968 Christ's Last Supper with the two center openings representing the bread and wine.

The second and fourth rows contain figures of each of the Apostles.  In their midst, at the center of the top, close to the bread and wine, is Christ.  He differs from the apostles only because he has a nimbus - thus illustrating that he was human, yet divine.  The two aspects of the church, the Militant and the Triumphant, are represented in the outer rows.

The bottom row is pure abstraction; it's only symbolism in the small splashes of red representing the Holy Spirit at work in the church on earth.  The New Jerusalem, which John described in the book of Revelation, is depicted in the upper row.  There are 12 gates of pearl with an angel guardian at each gate.  The foundations of the great wall are precious stones and the golden towers of the New Jerusalem are visible throughout.