Original article published in the Mower County Independent, Thursday, September 25, 2023. Reprinted with permission and gratitude.
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
“See the Bible story come to life before your eyes as Paul Oman paints throughout the service on a large-scale canvas…bringing the Word to life before your eyes,” shared an invitation posted to the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (OSLC) Facebook page, highlighting that the congregation will hold a very unusual service on Sunday, Oct. 1, as it hosts Wisconsin artist Paul Oman, who sketches and paints the stories of the Gospel as he speaks about what God’s purpose is for humanity and heaven, among other messages.
The Drawn to the Word website shares Oman’s biography, citing that he was born in the beautiful state of Wisconsin, where he currently resides with his wife and children, and continues, “He had a strong interest in art early in his life, inspired by the landscapes and nature surrounding him on the farm where he spent his childhood years. At age 10, he began receiving personal instruction in acrylic, oil, and watercolor painting. During this same year, Paul was the Wisconsin elementary youth selected to present an original watercolor to the governor at the State Capitol for Youth Art Month, a significant milestone in his life. His passion for painting and drawing continued to grow. He studied drawing in college (along with science education, and later, divinity at seminary).”
His biography continues, “In 2011, Paul and his wife, Jana, decided it was time to take the next step in this journey by moving into this developing artistic ministry full-time, giving it the time and attention it needed if it was to grow. There was risk involved, yet promise, as well. If this is what God had in mind, then he and his family would follow where it would lead. Since that leap, Paul has painted with many churches of all denominations across the United States, in China, and in both public and private schools, with nonprofits, camps, seminaries, colleges, and with inmates at correctional facilities. ‘The greatest joy of it all,’ Paul says with a smile, ‘are the people I meet along with way. I hope that what I do gives even a small amount of hope to anyone who is in need of hope.’ Paul continues to seek out and implement new ways in which the arts can revitalize congregations and communities.” It goes on to cite, “Receiving national and international recognition for his work in watercolor, painting worldwide as a live-audience mural and performance artist, as well as demonstrating, teaching, speaking and consulting, Paul shares his joy of painting and its power to communicate with people of all ages.”
OSLC Pastor Jolene Knudson-Hanse shared why it’s so exciting to have Oman at the front of the OSLC sanctuary. “Paul Oman is a talented artist, and it is mesmerizing to watch him paint a Bible story on a large canvas in 50 minutes. He does a lot of prep work before the event. We will have amazing music during this service to correspond and complement Paul’s live painting. Jordan Buchholtz will provide captivating pieces on both organ and piano. Jordan grew up in the Our Savior’s Lutheran congregation and now serves as the principal organist at Mount Olivet Lutheran in Minneapolis. Our Savior’s bell choir and senior choir will also be offering special music.” She continued, “We invite all ages to come. Children enjoy this service – it is very memorable. It is joyful and engaging. Paul is a seminary classmate of mine, and he is a joyful, faithful, talented painter and pastor. He has brought his art to many countries, including China’s underground church. Our Savior’s is able to offer these special events because of the generosity of Clifford Kumm and the members of OSLC. We love preparing special events that bring renewal and joy to our Christian faith. Paul will explain the images in his paintings and why he chose certain colors, following the painting’s completion.”
The pastor continued, “Another pastor has shared a testimonial about Paul – ‘Featuring Paul in our worship was one of the most engaging, meaningful experiences our congregation has had in years. Paul’s gift of painting and presence are amazing, and the good news shines through him.’ My parents are driving seven hours to see Paul paint in Spring Valley! They have seen him at my previous congregations and say the event is worth the drive. Stay for pancakes, muffins, sausage and fruit following in the fellowship hall.”
The congregation issued an invitation to the community to join them on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m., relaying, “You don’t want to miss the Drawn to the Word experience – bring friends and neighbors, and anyone who might need an invitation.” A pancake breakfast is slated to follow the service. The church’s members included that “a gluten-free griddle is available” and that an offering will be taken to help cover expenses.
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church is located at 805 S. Broadway Ave., Spring Valley, and it holds services on Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. throughout the fall to spring; summer services take place on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9:00 a.m. For more information, log onto the OSLC website at oursaviorsspringvalley.com, email email@example.com, or call the church office at 507-346-7251.
Courtesy of the Mower County Independent, 135 E Main St. LeRoy, MN 55951, (507)-324-5325