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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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David Hetland, liturgical artist, dies

 David Hetland
David Hetland, 58, a renowned liturgical artist, died April 16, shortly after returning home from Easter worship at Olivet Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D. For a decade Hetland had struggled with primary pulmonary hypertension. Last year, while Hetland and his wife, Mary, were both diagnosed and treated for cancer, he lost his liturgical arts business.


Hetland designed mosaic, stained glass and murals for worship and public spaces around the U.S. From 1977 through 2005, he designed 56-by-20 foot murals for the Christmas concert at his alma mater, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. More than 100 volunteers painted the murals on muslin using a paint-by-number system (December 2002, "Joy and wonder").

“David portrayed in Christmas concert murals and elsewhere so vividly images of the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth,” ELCA Secretary Lowell Almen said at Hetland’s funeral. “He gave us ‘pictures,’ so to speak, of the promise of the new heaven and a new earth.”

One of Hetland’s most famous works is Rondel, a mosaic the ELCA commissioned and exhibits in the the Lutheran Center, Chicago. His Jerusalem Cross mosaic panel is in the Vatican archives, a gift from the ElCA to the late Pope John Paul II.

Hetland served as Concordia’s director for communications from 1974 to 1982 and its director of special projects from 1982 to the present.


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