The Rev. Sara Baron at First United Methodist Church in Schenectady is looking for a few creative thinkers.
Baron and her congregation are putting together the church’s 2014 Lenten Photo Show beginning today, Ash Wednesday, and running through April 18, which is Good Friday. The competition, open to the public, is divided into five sections, each a week long and representing a different Lenten theme. The winners’ work will be printed and put on display at the church on Good Friday from 2-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.
The five themes are: injustice (March 5-11); justice (March 12-18); prophet (March 19-25); home (March 26-April 1); and forgiveness (April 2-8).
“The challenge is to find ways to capture these ideas and themes in a tangible way,” said Baron. “Some church members have asked me for more clarity, and I refuse to offer any clarity. It is quite challenging, but it will also be very interesting to see what people come up with.”
At a glance
• Participants will be able to file photographs as JPEGs of between 300bpi and 5MB and attach them to an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
•Photos can also be submitted by hand or mailed to FUMC Lenten Photo Show, 603 State St., Schenectady, NY 12305.
•All photos not received by email must be printed on 8x10 photo paper.
• All submissions must have the photographer’s name and contact information, and must include the category the picture is in.
Baron came to First United Methodist, located downtown, last July from the Binghamton area, where an area church had a Good
Friday art show.
“I was aware of this art show, but that is really quite a bit to ask of people,” said Baron. “But that was the beginning of my brainstorm. I kind of adapted it into a photography show because anyone can take a photograph. They’re not always amazing photographs but anyone can take one, so I thought this way would make the event more accessible for everyone.”
Longtime church member Larry McArthur is helping Baron coordinate the event.
“We’ll be looking at a different theme for each week, and then we’re going to post them on our website and our Facebook page and let people vote on them,” said McCarthur. “They can be black and white or color, and any kind of style as long as they try to interpret the theme of that week. It was Sara’s idea and we think it’s a good one. She’s been very enthusiastic and innovative since she came here.”
“We just don’t know what kind of response we’re going to get,” said Baron. “The winners get nothing other than having their photos on display, but we’re hoping we get enough submissions to have somewhere in the range of 10 photos for each theme.”
Most traditional Christian churches describe Lent as lasting 40 days, representing the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert while at the same time resisting the temptations offered him by the Devil. It was at the completion of this 40-day period that Christ began his public ministry.
“This is our first step to encourage people to consider themselves in a new light and take a look at a different part of their being,” said Baron. “Hopefully that will happen in taking the pictures or just in selecting their favorites. The second thing we hope this does is to provide people with an opportunity for worship centered around an artistic experience.”
Born and raised in the Scranton, Pa., area, Baron said she is enjoying her call to Schenectady.
“This is my dream church,” she said. “We’re an urban church. That’s very important to me. And we’re a multi-cultural, gay-friendly church, which means we love everyone. It’s exciting to be at a church that really cares about its community.”