Three years ago at Valley of Peace Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn., three parishioners responded to their pastor’s request to take on a Lenten art project, and create a mosaic for their church entry. Led by Barb Mikelson ’71, the committee also included Emilie Moravec ’07 and Jon Daniels ’88—all three Auggies.
Inspired by a mosaic being produced by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, they did their homework, learning how to break and cut ceramics and tile, use a tile nipper, and manage grout. They discussed methods, materials, timing, and logistics—and worked on theme and design, eventually deciding to focus on 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” The design, primarily Mikelson’s work, echoed the stained glass window design in the sanctuary, created by an Augsburg professor, the late August Molder, and incorporating the rainbow colors symbolic of a parish that identifies as a Reconciling in Christ congregation.
When the committee extended the invitation for help, they were astonished that about 80 individuals came forward, ranging in age from 4 to 80. Some simply donated broken bits of ceramic from their homes, others worked on sorting the donations by color, or cutting/breaking tile and ceramics. Most everyone worked on piecing bits of ceramic together in the mosaic, with those most confident in their abilities working on the more complex sections.
Over about a three-week period, at each of four work sessions a week, anywhere from 4 to 15 individuals would appear to help. Located in the choir room, the project was “highly visible and a bit in the way,” said Mikelson. People could watch the progress, and participants enjoyed pointing out their part of the project to family and friends.
The project became part of the parish’s Lenten journey. Mikelson said, “From our brokenness and pieces, we worked together to create beauty and wholeness. There was also a sort of unspoken sense of awe among the participants, knowing that our work would be installed directly inside the entrance to our church, and would be the sight to welcome people as they entered.” Even today, people walk past the mosaic in the church entry and touch the section on which they worked.
Though Mikelson spent most of her earlier career in retail human resources, she served the last 12 years as director of her church’s all-day, year-round early childhood education center, All God’s Children Learning Center—work that she found inspiring and humbling. Having just retired in January, Mikelson is pleased that the school’s leadership is now in the able hands of another Auggie, Courtney Gadbois-Brumbaugh ’95.
Mikelson’s retirement will afford her more time for her garden and for volunteering, and she and her husband, Paul ’70, look forward to traveling more and spending more time with their two “terrific” married children and spouses, and their three “beautiful” grandchildren. She hopes there may be some opportunities for new creative efforts in the future, too. “There is talk of a community weaving project at Valley of Peace,” she says, “so stay tuned.”
—by Cheryl Crockett ’89