Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church

Covington, MI

In 1930, a unique relationship was formed between Chicago artists and a Finnish church in the rural Covington Township of Michigan. Spearheaded by School of the Art Institute of Chicago professor Elmer Forsberg, the artists transformed the interior of the church building with artwork that reflects the heritage of the congregation and surrounding area.

Bethany Lutheran was established in the beginning of the 20th century by Finnish immigrant settlers, and was recognized the following year as a member of the Finnish (Suomi) Synod. Through their partnership with the Art Institute, the church became stewards of numerous artworks including: six handmade stained glass windows, carved chancel rails of St. John & St Peter, and a large altar painting of the Last Supper.

With a grant of $7,700 from the Nordic Heritage Churches Project, Bethany Lutheran raised over $17,000 to undertake building projects to ensure the preservation of the structure and the artworks it houses. Repairs included adding insulation for energy efficiency and comfort, updating the electrical system, and completing a structural evaluation of the church building.

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