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Lutheran pastor drawing attention to Carroll's needy children


WESTMINSTER -- For the Rev. Ron Reaves, pastor at St. Benjamin (Krider's) Lutheran Church, art and the ministry blend easily together as he puts pen to paper and gives form to his religious convictions.

"I often draw something out of my head," said the Westminster church's 10-year pastor. "When I see things in my head, I can duplicate them very easily."

For example, while his friend the Rev. David Bare was being ordained at Grace Lutheran Church this spring, Mr. Reaves was struck with an image of Jesus washing the Pharisee Simon's feet.

The result was his gift to Mr. Bare, a pen-and-ink reproduction of that image, symbolizing the work his friend had chosen to do.

"As [Jesus] is looking out, you can see that it's not a happy face," Mr. Reaves said, pointing to various elements of the picture, including the cross lightly superimposed on Christ's face. "It's a face that's saying, 'This is what it's like to be a disciple. You're going to have to bend down, get dirty and wash other people's feet.' "

An artist all his life, Mr. Reaves said he realized he had talent when the doodles he scrawled on the margins of his grade-school papers started to take shape as tiny works of art. Although he never took a formal art lesson, it was this talent, along with his musical ability, that led him to the ministry.

"The pastor of my home church, Ron Fearer, took a great deal of interest in my art ability and other abilities," Mr. Reaves said of the former minister at Old Elias Lutheran Church in Emmitsburg. "He felt that I could apply them to work in the ministry."

And though he debated the decision all through high school, when it came time to enter Gettysburg (Pa.) College, he decided to major in pre-ministerial studies. The 1968 graduate then went on to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and completed his studies in 1972.

He was ordained in his native church on June 25 of that year.

"The ministry has given me an opportunity to integrate all the abilities I've been given by God," Mr. Reaves said.

Yet the 46-year-old pastor's artistic efforts have not been confined to use with his own congregation. As a pastime, he has channeled his talent into designing logos and seals for various organizations and businesses, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Delaware-Maryland Synod.

"I enjoy capturing the imagery that best expresses the philosophy and energy of a company or institution," Mr. Reaves said.

Designing the logo for the "Caring for Carroll's Kids" campaign was then a natural project -- providing the imagery for a program that he strongly believes in.

"It doesn't take very long to realize that there are some very needy children in Carroll County, in my own congregation," Mr. Reaves said. "The campaign appeals to people by showing them that Carroll's children are deserving of adequate school supplies and clothing."

The program, sponsored by the county government, Carroll's Circle of Caring and Roy Rogers restaurant, will provide needy families with vouchers to buy clothing and school supplies. Most donations will come from the sale of large drinks at the restaurant and from change-collection tins at the registers.

All money collected will go directly into the program.

"There is no middle management," Mr. Reaves said. "I'm not getting paid for the logo, and everyone is working voluntarily."

For this project, he chose to portray a smiling, "gender-neutral" child all decked out for the first day of school. Each of the student's new possessions -- backpack, sneakers, lunch box, etc. -- is labeled with a price tag, showing how expensive it is to outfit a child.

"A good set of Nikes or Reeboks will set any parent back a bit," Mr. Reaves said. "But these parents don't have the resources to buy adequate school clothing and supplies."

His most recent undertaking, the third in a series of liturgical art books, has been sent to the publisher and will probably be produced later this year.

The books -- which are produced by Tarrywood Designs, a Roman Catholic publishing house in Connecticut -- consist of line art drawings to complement scriptural selections that will be used in the worship service.

Non-denominational in nature, they can be clipped and used by pastors who follow the liturgical calendar -- such as Lutherans, Catholics and Episcopalians -- in their bulletins or calendars to illustrate the weekly Biblical passage.

"It was a challenge, having to come up with an image for each scriptural text," Mr. Reaves said. "It's easy to draw anything you want, but I had to create an image out of what it said. I really had to become familiar with those texts."

Mr. Reaves said he was selected for the task in 1988 after he sent his drawings to various companies inquiring about having them published.

"[Tarrywood] wrote back and asked if I was interested in doing a book," he said, adding that the company also produces liturgical art from about four other artists, each with a different style. "They provided me with 60 scriptural texts, and I went to work creating the images."

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