Nearly a year after an Ohio school board voted to remove a painting of Jesus Christ that was hanging in a high school for decades, local residents have taken action to ensure that the spirit of the image won't be forgotten.
The debate over the painting, which had hung inside the main office at John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio, since 1971 in memory of former teacher Margaret Barnett, began when a student and the American Civil Liberties Union jointly asked that it be taken down; the district complied.
Allison Whaley, a senior at the time, was reportedly frustrated after the school removed an art class project that included a T-shirt with the words "Gay is Okay." So, she responded by asking that the painting be removed, with the ACLU threatening a lawsuit over it, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
Residents who revered the image — which is now on display at a local church — responded to its removal by raising money to come up with a symbol that could replace it to be placed on nearby private property, according to the Zanesville Times-Recorder.
And last week these efforts culminated with a new sign that was installed atop a white column on the property of Terry and Cathy Hodgson, two locals who have been involved in plans to find a solution to the removal.
It reads, "The Lord is my Shepherd," with the verse these words are derived from — "Psalm 23" — printed on its side.
"I went to that school and graduated from that school," Cathy Hodgson told the outlet of her motivation to help. "I really felt very good about it. I was proud to do it."
Residents initially planned to build a 6-foot statue of Jesus near the entrance of the school, though they later opted for a cheaper sign that features the actual image of the painting — one that portrays Jesus surrounded by lambs, according to the Zanesville Times-Recorder.
While the painting is no longer on school property, the sign's home on the Hodgson's lawn is in view of the school, allowing students and faculty, alike, to see it.
An internal light that illuminates the Christian message will make viewing it even easier.
The total cost of the sign was $6,000 — a sum that was raised from more than two dozen donors, including local churches. It will be dedicated on October 28 during a prayer ceremony.
(H/T: Zanesville Times-Recorder)
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