Local artist completes nativity mural just in time for Christmas Eve services at the First Baptist Church.
Members of First Baptist Church on Cabot Street have something extra to celebrate this season — a new mural of the night scene in Bethlehem stands as the backdrop for the nativity scene in the sanctuary thanks to local art student Kristine Williams.
Williams, who studies sculpture and painting at Montserrat College of Art, spent three weekends working late nights to complete the mural as the congregation celebrates the advent season.
“I’m really interested in the spirituality of art,” said Williams. “But it’s not something I found that I could explore anywhere else. This was the perfect place for me to put my faith into my art.”
Williams’ mural depicts a night scene in Bethlehem with a stable where the nativity pieces stand. “There’s a low horizon,” said Williams. “Most of the composition consists of the sky and mountains. Part of the sky is glowing and an angel is placed right in front of that. That is the main light source.”
Williams, originally from upstate New York has been worshiping at First Baptist for a little more than a year.
“We realized that we have this artist attending worship,” said Rev. Julie Flowers. “It was a neat way for her to bring her talents into the church and use it in a really creative way.”
“Working in the empty chapel was amazing,” said Williams. “I have this tendency to say yes to big projects without really thinking about the time involved. I was really busy because it is the end of our semester, but I couldn’t turn it down. It was an awesome opportunity. Time flew by when I was doing it. It came really easily to me.”
The whole nativity scene gets put together during advent the four weeks before Christmas. As part of the worship service, different pieces of the nativity scene are brought up each week by each of the Sunday-school classes.
“It is always good for a congregation to see new people come in with their new and unique talents,” said Flowers. “Watching Kristine bring the mural together, the whole congregation was singing while she was actually painting. The kids really liked it. It made them feel very included.”
Flowers say she hopes this will encourage more young people like Williams to attend services at First Baptist.
“A lot of younger people have really started coming recently,” said Flowers. “That’s good for any church to continue to have more diversity in its congregation. In addition to being neat to have a new young person come to the congregation, Montserrat is a prominent art school in the middle of Beverly. It’s nice to have this connection with them.”
Williams put the finishing touches on the mural as part of the Sunday worship service.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far with art,” said Williams. “As I was painting the stars, putting the finishing touches on, the choir was singing and the children were placing the angel up on the shelf. It was really cool because I felt like I was part of something bigger. Like my art had a purpose other than just doing something for myself.”
View the muralFirst Baptist Church, 221 Cabot St., is open to the community Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers regular Sunday service at 11 a.m. There will be a Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m., with children in mind and the traditional Christmas Eve service at 11 p.m.