Anyone who has visited the St. Paul Lutheran School gymnasium (located at 495 Earhart Rd.) has noticed Grand Rapids-based artist Edward Riojas’ beautiful mural. Towering over the gymnasium, the mural features a depiction of St. Paul on Mars Hill, but with Ann Arbor landmarks like the Bell Tower and The Michigan Theater in the background. The inspiration for the piece, according to St. Paul Lutheran Pastor Don Neuendorf, came from the location of the building and the view it grants of Ann Arbor.
“We’re up on this hill here, and we’re almost at the highest point in Ann Arbor,” said Pastor Neuendorf. “And like Athens, Ann Arbor is this great metropolitan and intellectual center.”
The mural shows St. Paul presenting the gospel to a group of ancient philosophers. One thing was missing from the mural however, as Pastor Neuendorf discovered shortly after the mural was installed.
“When we started this idea, it was just myself and the artist. We couldn’t gather much enthusiasm from others,” said Pastor Neuendorf. The result was that Damaris — a woman who followed St. Paul and is included in Acts 17:19, the passage that the mural is based on — was omitted from the mural. “We didn’t get enough people involved,” said Pastor Neuendorf. “Or else we wouldn’t have missed this.”
After realizing the oversight, and working out the details with Riojas, two more panels have been added to depict women, one older and one younger, because there is no mention of how old Damaris was in the Bible.