Lincoln Berean Church and the arts

Part of what made moving to Arkansas four years ago difficult was leaving our church — particularly leaving a church with a “visual art department.” I knew the presence of such a group in the small town we moved to was unlikely. Of course, the visual art department (and the theology of the arts department next to it) at Lincoln Berean was a fledgling effort. Some of our big ideas faced the typical mountain of stereotypes in a more or less conservative church.

This same church, with which we retain a number of ties, held its first service in a new building on Easter weekend. Ann Williams, a girl I took classes with as an art student, was commissioned to lead a collaborative project developing an installation for the new addition. I checked her website this morning and found this photo of the finished piece:


Viewing the photo (I’ve yet to see the piece in person), I am encouraged. It is an imaginative work of art, especially for a church. It might not be the most glorious thing around, but the level of creativity is more than most evangelical churches would ever consider for prominent display. Further, and thank goodness, the piece (from what I can tell in the pictures) does not come across as “churchy.”

My friend Joel Armstrong visioned and proposed a similar idea for the church he and I now attend. This project was also collaborative, a mural. The idea lost steam, however, when the staff member championing the idea moved away. As often as I listen to the sermon in church, I daydream about making the space more glorious (sorry Jay!). I envision installations and murals, architectural details that will draw people into deeper worship. Of course, this is just the way my mind works.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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