Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster celebrated the completion of a mural this summer after a two-year planning process centered on community engagement.
“For the Beauty of the Earth” was created by Salina Almanzar-Oree, a Puerto Rican and Dominican artist and educator, based on stained-glass art incorporating local symbolism. Congregational members pitched in with a paint-by-number format on 5-foot-square sections that Almanzar-Oree finalized in her studio before the panels were installed over eight days this summer.
The parrot is a symbol adopted by the congregation as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit but is also a symbol for many Lancaster community members, representing migration, the vibrancy of a diverse community and a reminder of wildlife from home countries.
The background is a map of the local area from 1912 that incorporates community members playing and interacting. Other components of the art include images of a printing press that would have been used at the local Conn & Slote Printing Co., protesters outside a segregated pool in 1963, a map of local waterways, Susquehannock Petroglyphs and longhouses, early Anabaptist Dirk Willems rescuing his pursuer, the congregation’s building in 1927 when it was Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, a Puerto Rican parade dancer and an image of members from a local African Methodist Episcopal church fundraising for their neighborhood.