Mobile combines art, faith

Published 10:52 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

An impressive piece combining art and the Christian faith is on display at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.
Made up of an estimated 240 paper doves of various colors, the mobile represents gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to Father Kevin Johnson. The piece went on display May 23 as part of the church’s Pentecost observance. It will remain on view through Saint Peter’s Feast Day, which is celebrated later this month.
Loraine Babcock conceived the idea of the mobile after perusing booklets provided by Johnson. The final product surpassed anyone’s expectations. The mobile has three tiers, the largest of which measures 6 feet-by-6 feet and towers above the sanctuary.
Babcock’s husband, Dick, was pressed into service and designed the framework, which he fashioned from PVC pipe, chain and tiny hooks. Todd Williamson and Johnson braved the hot, dusty sanctuary attic to drop a braided, wire cord to suspend the piece from the ceiling.
Meanwhile, Babcock and other volunteers created the three-dimensional doves, each of which bears the name of a Saint Peter’s family. They used card stock in such vibrant hues as lime green, pale yellow, gold, fuchsia, kelly green, coral and purple. As an added touch, each dove sports rhinestone eyes to catch the light and reflect the colors of the sanctuary’s stained-glass windows.
“We initially thought about doing this in white, but the colors represent the diversity of people,” said Babcock, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit when designing the piece. “Everyone is different.”
The mobile has become such a welcome sight that parishioners, Babcock included, dread the thought of it coming down.
“I would like to see it become a tradition and added to each year,” Babcock said. “I’d like to add an 8-by-8-foot square next year.”
On the day the mobile was unveiled, youngsters in the church made sure each person in the congregation had a special souvenir.
“The kids had folded origami birds, so each parishioner had one to take home,” Nancy Hamblin said.
“The concept was for them to take the Holy Spirit out into the world,” Johnson added.
Johnson praised Babcock for her creativity in designing the piece.
“People walk in and just go ‘Wow,’” he said. “You look at it as a whole unit and it’s just fascinating, and then you start looking at the details. The kids are especially fascinated by it, even the big kids.”
“I think it does help people connect spiritually with God, to have this spiritual moment going on during the service,” Hamblin said.
Johnson joked that the mobile is so eye-catching that he has to stay on his toes during services.
“I have to make my sermons more exciting,” he said with a laugh.