The Music and Arts Ministry at Ascension celebrates music and art as a gift of God and an expression of faith. This ministry invites, schedules and manages concerts and gallery art shows, establishing Ascension as a center for the arts in the community.
Music at Ascension
The excellent acoustics, state of the art sound and lighting equipment, a 4-manual pipe organ and concert grand piano, and unique building design makes Ascension a venue of choice for our community’s most prestigious artists and music ensembles.
Gallery Organ Ascension’s organ was built in 1964 by the M.P. Möller Organ Company of Hagerstown, MD, and the congregation approved a project to renovate the 4-manual instrument on September 1, 2013. The restoration of the 50-year old organ will be done in two phases. Phase 1 was completed in 2015 and addressed the issues of the organ console and restoration of the Möller windchests, reservoirs and pipework. The old pneumatic workings of the console were replaced with solid state components bringing the organ console to present day standards. The existing keyboards of valuable English Ivory were retained in the new solid state console. It also added 32’ digital extensions to the pedal division, MIDI, playback capability, and 99 levels of piston memory.
Phase 2 enhances the tonal resources of the organ. The addition of these new pipes will allow for a display of pipework to be visible, providing a striking visual impact, further enhancing the impressive architectural statement of our sanctuary.
Having the gallery Möller organ renovation work done by local artisans (Richard Hurley and Michael O’Sullivan, both former Möller associates) accomplished much more than originally planned and budgeted for Phase 1. Therefore, we were able to procure a 4½ rank chancel organ from Chaparral Christian Church to be installed in the East balcony which will be used as an antiphonal organ that was originally planned for Phase 2.
The organ was purchased by Ascension Lutheran Church in 2015, disassembled by Richard Hurley and Michael O’Sullivan, transported to Ascension from Chaparral Christian, and reassembled in the East balcony for use as our antiphonal organ.
The original 4½ rank instrument is being augmented by two ranks that are being added:
1) the relocated Krummhorn rank from the Choir division of the Gallery organ, which had been replaced during the Gallery organ restoration by a Clarinet rank procured from a Möller organ in New Jersey, and
2) a Flute Celeste rank, procured from a Möller organ in Philadelphia.
Electrical preparation work has been completed and installation of the pipework and chests has begun.
Worship Choir The choir rehearses at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evenings during the school year.
Dr. Christopher Samuel, cantor/choirmaster, is an an excellent musician and leader and a prominent member of the valley’s music community. He has served as director of music in various Christian congregations and is the director of the Valley Chamber Chorale.
Paradise Valley Conservatory
Ascension Lutheran Church is the home of the Paradise Valley Conservatory, featuring classes in the performing arts for all ages. Classes offered include voice, music theory, piano, guitar, and acting.
Art at Ascension
Homeless Jesus Sculpture dedicated November 13, 2014
Ascension is the exclusive location for a “Homeless Jesus” sculpture in Phoenix; currently, four other major markets worldwide also have a sculpture. The sculpture’s powerful image, intended to elicit compassion, reflection and un-ease amongst onlookers has sparked controversy in other cities. In 2013, Pope Francis blessed the original wooden statue of Homeless Jesus, following a meeting with the artist. The wooden statue will remain in the Vatican until a location for the full-size sculpture is identified in Rome.
Created out of bronze by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz, Homeless Jesus is inspired by Matthew: 25:40. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket. The visible wounds on the feet are the only indication that it is Jesus. The life-size version of the work has enough room that someone is able to sit on the bench.
“Homeless Jesus sitting there on a park bench is speaking with an invisible loudspeaker to all who pass by, saying ‘Come and sit awhile with me, talk to me. I understand and I am walking with you through all the trials of your life’,” says Deacon Jayne Baker of Ascension. “The sculpture speaks volumes, without saying a word.”
The church installed a new water station in close proximity to Homeless Jesus to welcome the many hikers and bikers that use Mockingbird Lane regularly.
Miniature sculptures are available for purchase through Ascension’s web gift shop, with all proceeds directly benefiting the outreach ministries of Ascension.
For more about the artist:
For more about the Homeless Jesus sculpture:
Shown below are commissioned works of art in the Ascension gallery. Several have been sponsored by a grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan with funds provided by Lilly Endowment, Inc., entitled Transformation Through Imagination, through which artists from the community are invited to collaborate with Ascension members to interpret the Gospel through art.
Communionware presented June 17, 2007
The four sets of Chalice and Paten created by potter Farraday Newsome were dedicated on June 17, 2007. Two sets depict butterflies, a Christian symbol for transformation. The other two sets depict leaves and grapes, representing the organic nature of bread and wine. Inspired by Luke 7:36-50, the collaborative team and artist focused on what they felt to be most essential; gathering around the Table of the Lord to receive God’s unconditional forgiveness and sustaining love.
Baptismal Font presented June 10, 2007
Metal forger Michael Sobrado created this steel and glass Baptismal Font, an artistic rendering illustrating the growth and maturity born through daily renewal of our baptismal promises. The angled arms preserve the pentagonal features of Ascension’s architecture. The vines, fashioned from oiled bronze, symbolize growth as the smaller leaves at the bottom develop into mature leaves at the top. The bowl is made of 3/4 inch molded glass.
Graphic Design presented June 3, 2007
Graphic artist Dana Ball created this three-part colorful interpretation of the Holy Trinity. The three words – Create, Embody, Transform – are visual symbols that represent the work of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This triptych introduces Ascension’s new Vision Statement: To Create…to Embody…to Transform – encouraging all who encounter Ascension’s ministry to respond to the Great Commission described in Matthew 28.
Photography – Triptych presented April 22, 2007
The photography of artist Laura Siivola depicts three stages of Spiritual growth inspired by John 21:1-19. The left photo represents our early faith formation when we take those first, fragile steps toward obedience. The colorful blossom in the center photo symbolizes human potential to love others as God loves us. And the right photo suggests mature faith that endures through life’s challenges, demonstrating the gifts of faith to the next generation.
Carved Wooden Mask presented January 18, 2007
Mask Maker Zarco Guerrero responded to the collaborative conversation with this interpretation; a mahogany carved face that is at once male and female, sad and joyful, an expression of any culture or period of time. Wearing the face of ancient wisdom and weaving stories of the history of God’s people in the Southwest, Zarco’s masks unmask our strengths and weaknesses as we become the face of God to our neighbor.
Glass Art Neckpiece presented December 17, 2006
Laurie Nessel, art instructor at Mesa Center for the Arts, created this unusual and complex necklace celebrating the joy of motherhood and the wonder of ‘being pregnant with promise.’ Each faceted glass bead reflects light from the inside out, causing the eye to look past the rough brown exterior to the polished and colorful center.
Mural painting presented October 1, 2006
Local artist Jana Peterson created this bold and colorful interpretation of Matthew 6:25-33. This mural size painting reflects the eastern sky at sunrise and the familiar McDowell range of mountains. The desert valley is filled with millions of flowers and birds. The desert lily and the hummingbird in the foreground celebrate the detail, intricate beauty, and miraculous care God lavishes on every living thing.
Noah’s Ark Sculpture dedicated September 15, 2002
Local artist Jana Peterson created an interactive painting for children in our congregation. Commissioned by the Arts and Faith Ministry Team for the Children’s Ministry program, the painting has movable animals, birds, and Noah and his wife – designed to allow children to hear or tell the story in creative ways. Currently hung in the Sunday School Activity Classroom, the painting is the second commissioned work of art in Ascension’s permanent collection. The painting was dedicated to the Glory of God on September 15, 2002. Click here for more photos of the painting
Memorial Garden Sculpture dedicated 5/12/02
Ascension’s first sculpture was dedicated on Ascension Sunday, May 12, 2002. This graceful work of art, sculpted by local Native American artist Jon DeCelles from white marble with silver-grey veins, sits on a boulder especially selected to serve as its pedestal. Titled “Ascension”, the work symbolizes Christ ascending into Heaven and serves as a reminder that our loved ones have also ascended into Heaven to be with God for eternity. The piece was commissioned as a memorial for Tom Doench by the Doench family.