British Columbia Church Art Inspired by 15th-Century Pulpit

This past Thanksgiving Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church in Surrey, British Columbia, dedicated a pair of murals. The artwork reminds worshipers that God is a God of seasons and bears witness to God’s constancy and faithfulness.

Both sections of the mural show the passing seasons in a dual theme of creation and cultivation. One side represents the natural landscape; the other, cultivated land with green fields, fruit orchards, and buildings.

The two sections each stretch more than 50 feet in length, forming a circular continuum around a 4-foot-high wall that wraps the church’s worship space.

The work has been two years in the making and is the collective effort of five visual artists, all members of the congregation.

Gerry Dykstra adds final touches to the mural.

Laurel Vlieg, Chris Kasteel, Pam DeJong, Gerry Dykstra, and Rev. Albert Westerhuis, one of the church’s pastors, created the piece. The team agreed on the concept and style of the painting before beginning the work.

Once they established the overall theme, the artists chose their sections to work on. “There was always the understanding that someone else has the freedom, after consultation, to make corrections or additions. Major changes were decided on together” said Gerry Dykstra.

Artists worked on the piece whenever they were able. “Amazingly, in the almost two years of the project we never had any arguments.” says Dykstra.

A 15th-century church pulpit in Bolsward, Friesland, the Netherlands, inspired the artwork. The ornately carved pulpit with a large suspended canopy shows four wooden panels representing the seasons. Dykstra visited the church many years ago and dreamed of bringing those images together in a work art for a present generation.

The dedication coincided with Fleetwood’s 50th anniversary.

About the Author

Jenny de Groot is a teacher/librarian in Langley, British Columbia.

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