Art for Worship

The Doederlein Gallery

Saint Luke Lutheran Church,
Chicago, Illinois


Liturgical Artist Karen Godecke puts finishing touches on this exhibit of Altar Frontals, Stoles, and community-made hangings in the Doederlein Gallery, at St. Luke Church, Chicago., from October 4 through November 15, 2015.


The Doederlein Gallery provides fifty-two running feet of excellent church-Art exhibition space, with a variety of regularly scheduled Art.


Thank you to the people of St. Luke, and in particular, to Laura Abrahamson, for this special exhibition opportunity!

Serving, through Art for Worship,

Karen Godecke

Liturgical Artist


The Time of the Church - Green Season

Branches-Of-Praise Chancel Hangings

Cedar Rapids, IA

Branches-of-Praise are an appropriate visual faith expression for the Green season of the Church year.  A metaphor for The Body of Believers, branches grow and bear fruit,  rooted in Jesus Christ, The True Vine.  When hung on each side of a church chancel, they form an implied arc-of-praise over the altar.

I am the vine, you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him,
he will bear much fruit; apart from me
you can do nothing.
Love each other as I have loved you.  Jn 15:5,12

These two 12' x 3' Liturgical hangings reflect several layered mixed media techniques:  The branch-stems are spray-painted stencil-grids of triangle-shapes.  The leaves inside the oval-arcs are stencil-shapes that have been colored in various hues of oil-pastel; smaller 'negative' shapes were cut out of the leaves, giving them greater texture as well as allowing the contrasting green cloth underneath to show through.


Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God;
they shall still bear fruit in old age;
they shall be green and succulent,
that they may show how upright the Lord is,
my rock, in whom there is no injustice.  Ps 92:12-15

The text within the branch-design functions several ways; Scriptural text arcs over each stem-extension, uniformly, creating a delicate lacy texture, with spots of color that look like small-bud-flowers. The viewer is drawn closer, recognizing words that enrich the meaning of this Branch-of-Praise symbol.  The text reads from the left hanging-top-down, to the right hanging-top-down.


Christ the shoot that springs triumphant,
from the stump of Jesse's tree;
Christ, true vine, you nurture branches
To bear fruit abundantly.
Graft us into you, O Savior;
Prune our hearts so we remain
fruitful branches in your vineyard....

#540, v. 3, Lutheran Service Book,
Text:  Steven P. Mueller

Serving through Art for Worship,

Karen Godecke
Liturgical Artist


The Day of Pentecost

Liturgical Art Installation

Saint Luke Lutheran Church,
Chicago, Illinois

On this festival day, worshipers entered the sanctuary passing near the Baptismal font space, marked by The Spirit;
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Alleluia. (Antiphon)

Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets
the name of the Lord is to be praised. Ps. 113

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. Acts 2:4


The chancel Holy Spirit-flames were made from regular hardware store screening that was spray-painted orange, red and gold, for a warm glowing effect. Cut paper flame details were also glued on the outside of various multi-sized screen cylinders.


As an affirmation of faith and testimony to The Spirit, worshipers tied red ribbons on the St. Luke's Church fence, outside.

The Spirit of the Lord fills the world! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thank you to Laura Abrahamson, Liturgical Artist at St. Luke's, for this inspirational example of excellence in whole-space Art for Worship installation!

Partnering in Service through Art for Worship,
Karen Godecke,
Liturgical Artist


Good Friday

Liturgical Art Installations


The white neo-gothic altar with statue of Jesus at Trinity Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was draped in black fabric (18’ x 10’) to remember the suffering and death of Christ, and to dramatically convey the ultimate sacrifice of God’s Son; .”.The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”. Is. 53:6b. Six pillar candles (three on each side of the center drape) and the center Christ Candle were extinguished after each of the seven last words/phrases of Christ on the Cross were read in the worship service. The black felt floor drape extends down the chancel aisle to symbolize the sin of the world. The starkness of the chancel space, stripped bare except for altar and Christ Candle, in low light, heightens the meaning of Good Friday.


A stage and center gym floor area were prepared for Good Friday noon worship through a spartan but dramatic use of black and white, at Trinity Lutheran School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; lengths of white paper on the back stage wall (11’ x 12’) were a backdrop for 6 media images projected during worship, above a black-covered altar-pall or ‘holy hill’ at center-stage-front.


A length of black felt extended from the altar-pall down the front edge of the stage to the gym floor, where an additional 50 foot aisle of black landscape fabric became a path for worshippers to walk on to reach their seats. The worshippers footprints on the ‘black path’ helped define the concept of ‘sin’: …”he (Christ) bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Is. 53:12c


Serving through Art for Worship,

Karen Godecke,

Liturgical Artist


Lenten Devotional Cross Art

Trinity Lutheran Church,
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were asked to bring devotional crosses from their homes to be included in a set of chancel hangings for the Lenten season, with the stipulation that crosses be sturdy, ten inches or smaller in size, and weigh less than two pounds.


To prepare for the crosses-placement, purple nylon net was stencil spray-painted with ‘aura’ designs cut by Trinity Lutheran school children.  To make the nylon net sturdier, a length of black fiberglass window-screen was placed behind the purple net, and each cross was wired onto the net-screen backing.  A purple, black and red batik fabric was placed behind the net-screen, for added richness and to evoke the suffering and death of Christ on the Cross.


Lamb of God, pure and holy,
Who on the cross did suffer,
Ever patient and lowly,
Yourself to scorn did offer.

All things You bore for us,
Else had despair reigned o’er us:
Have mercy on us,
O Jesus!  O Jesus!


Serving through Art for Worship,

Karen Godecke Liturgical Artist