Chancel Painting

A gift, presented to St. Paul’s United Church
by the artist ELVA FREDERKING and by her husband RENARD E. FREDERKING.

The unveiling and dedication took place on June 23, 1957

(click on image for larger view)

The Story of the Painting

It is a fine tribute to the members of Session and the Official Board that they found the vision, imagination, and appreciation to grant the artist freedom to express the depth of the Christian faith so profoundly and beautifully in the form of art. This is particularly true when it is contemporary, expressionistic, rather than pictorial, and in the worship centre of our new church which has been so architecturally satisfying.

A painting of this size, twenty-five feet by ten feet, is an unusual undertaking and in the given setting it presented technical problems. The entire project was completed in five weeks. That included the designing and erecting of the scaffolding, stretching the canvas, sizing, priming, squaring in proportion to the original sketch, underpainting, overpainting, and spraying the surface to protect the oil painting. The result is a work of art that we anticipate will inspire the worship and service of Almighty God for many years to come.

The painting suggests Pentecost and yet worshipers will seek, and find expressed, many other meanings familiar to them in Scripture and Life.

This awe-inspiring painting is a gift, presented to this Church by the artist, Elva Frederking and her husband Renard E. Frederking, a member of the Board of the Church. Mr. and Mrs. Frederking also are members of the choir and together, in the spirit of unselfish devotion, have given freely of time, talent and substance in the service of The Master and for the order and beauty of worship in His sanctuary.

It is with heartfelt gratitude, and in the same spirit in which it is given, that this gift is received for our our church. We give thanks to God and to all those who in any way have helped to make this painting become a reality.

Duty teaches us to do things well;
Love teaches us to do things beautifully.
Phillip Brooks

A note from the artist, Elva Frederking  (this is an excerpt from a letter Elva wrote to Reverend John G. E. Ball from her home in California on October 7, 1959)

In reply to your question regarding my ideas at the time of its creation, may I say first of all that it was a labor of love. My husband and I, and three sons felt very close to the church, our good friend and Pastor Reverend Mullen, and members of the congregation who gave so much of themselves in every way to make the building of the church possible.

It is difficult to put into words exactly why I chose to do what I did but I will try. Several factors had to be taken into consideration naturally before starting the initial sketches; First, the size of the painting in relationship to the building; second, the architectural design of the church which is contemporary in line yet traditional in its warmth, and third, the feeling and reactions of those who would be coming to worship.

Two to three months were spent in planning method of procedure i.e. how to mount and stretch a canvas of such dimensions in place allowing air to circulate behind it to prevent deterioration of the canvas from exposure to extreme temperature changes, dampness, etc. to which all exterior walls are subject. During that time I also executed and discarded several more literal pictorial sketches both in black and white and full color… one of which is hanging downstairs in the Sunday School (Christ the Good Shepherd). Then suddenly one night shortly after retiring and just before falling asleep, this particular idea came to me. I could see the painting as clearly as if I had already painted it and just as you see it now… … the empty Cross, signifying the Risen Christ, upon which our faith is founded… the bird forms, symbolic of the Holy Spirit descending upon and encircling the Cross… and the people, not only of that day but of all time from every part of the world who look to the Cross as the Way of Life. So you see I really cannot take any credit for the idea because there it was, and all that was left for me to do was to carry out its execution. That I did, happily, with the enthusiastic support of a far-sighted, open-minded Committee, Session, and, of course, Minister and congregation.

Perhaps there are many who come to worship in St. Paul’s who feel nothing of what I have been saying herewith from the painting, but I sincerely hope there are just as many to whom it has brought joy, or peace, or comfort, or inspiration.

I am humbly grateful for having had the opportunity to share in such a wonderful and worthwhile experience and will always remember it as one of the finest moments of my life.

Thank you, Reverend Ball, not only for expressing your acceptance of the Chancel painting, but also for giving me the opportunity to talk with you about it. Before leaving you I would like to add that, above all, I had hoped not only to convey a message but to achieve a feeling of timelessness so that the work would have as much meaning thirty years from now as it does today.