“Many, many, many hours, I can’t even begin to tell,” the 69-year-old east Cobb resident said of how long she’s spent working on the mural, which covers five walls near the church’s preschool area.
Work on the project began five years ago when the church’s then-Christian education director asked Hayes, a retired registered nurse who grew up in a family of artists, to work on a mural. Though she’d long taken art classes, Hayes jumped at the chance, but figured she would need help to complete the task.
That’s how Eastminster’s art ministry was born, which Hayes believes was the first such group at a Cobb County church. In all, 15 people have worked on the mural. They decided on a Noah’s Ark mural after seeing plans that church member Suzanne Yates had drawn up 10 years earlier. Yates’ original plans were used for the initial mural, which showed pairs of animal species, ranging from snakes to kangaroos, making their way toward the Ark where Noah waited with open arms. From there, they continued to paint on nearby walls, using playful monkeys that were painted at eye level for the children.
“The first mural was done with adults in mind,” Hayes said. “We didn’t know how the church was going to take art. Now it’s more whimsical.”
Newer additions to the mural run along the walls outside the classrooms. The upper parts of these areas are left blue, allowing for the kids’ own art projects to be put on display.
Helen Moran of east Cobb, 62, is proud of the work she did on the mural’s koalas. This was her first time working on an art project, but the east Cobb resident now advises others to get involved.
“You should try to integrate it with all areas of your life, because it expands your outlook on life,” she said. “It can bring a lot to your appreciation for life.”
Marlene Anglin, 74, said she had been looking for a new church with her husband, and the art ministry was what led them to Eastminster.
“This was the only one I could find with an art ministry,” she said. “It’s been a real blessing here because it’s brought me closer to some wonderful, wonderful people.”
Hayes put the finishing touches on the mural Friday, painting in words taken from the book of Genesis: “God said this is the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” The phrase is above a part of the mural showing a rainbow behind a lion and lamb together.
Associate Pastor Blake Hudson said he was pleased with the mural.
“One of the things that both the head pastor and I believe is that a church without kids is, well, not much of a church,” Hudson said. “We want everybody who comes in to know that this is a church that welcomes kids. What better way than to have this on the wall?”
The art ministry will play host to a dedication for the mural at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 13, just after Sunday services conclude at the church, located at 3125 Sewell Mill Road. Hayes was excited to complete the project, but said the art ministry doesn’t end when the mural is complete.
“I’m in shock,” she said. “We’re very excited because we’re ready to move onto something else after five years. But it’s been a blessing. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing it.”
The art ministry plans to expand its programs that provide after-school programs for at-risk youth, Hayes said, while also having craft classes during Eastminster’s summer vacation Bible school and fall festival. Another program will bring in Kennesaw State University students to help paint another mural in the church’s fellowship room.
“It’s a way to reach out to the kids at KSU who might be interested in art, to say, ‘Hey, you can help us,’ ” Hudson said.