Sunflowers for Ukraine

Brookland creates fused-glass art, donates all proceeds for relief

By Jessica Brodie

WEST COLUMBIA—Some people pray for the crisis in Ukraine, some send money, while some are on the front lines supplying food, water and medical supplies.

But for a group of people at Brookland United Methodist Church in West Columbia, their way to help involves art.

Glass artist Karen Mixon guided attendees in making fused-glass suncatchers using colors related to Ukraine, the bright blue and yellow of their nation’s flag prominent among all.

Held May 14 at the church, 30 artisans of all skill levels came to the church for fun while using their creative expression to show Christian love for war-torn neighbors 5,000 miles away.

All proceeds were donated to United Methodist Committee on Relief to help the people of Ukraine directly.

A member of Brookland UMC, Mixon was a high school art teacher for 37 years and has never stopped creating. Since retirement, her passion has been fused-glass art and glass mosaics. Mixon often teaches art classes at Brookland for adults in the church and surrounding community, donating a portion back to the church in gratitude.

But as headlines continue to remind about the crisis in Ukraine, her heart stirred, and she knew she needed to do something.

“The heart-wrenching suffering and the bravery of Ukraine’s people encouraged me to do a fused-glass sun catcher class based on their national flower, the sunflower,” Mixon said.

She approached her pastor the Rev. Mark Payne, and he readily agreed.

“I believe one of my greatest responsibilities as a pastor is to encourage our members to use their gifts and graces in new ways,” he said. “This was the perfect opportunity to encourage Karen and support the people of Ukraine.”

For several weeks before the class, she donated, cut and prepared the glass pieces, then on the day of the class, all came together for a time of fellowship, service and Christian love.

“We had a wonderful experience together, and some beautiful suncatchers were made,” Mixon said.

Candi Payne, who attended the class, said while she has attended other fused-glass classes and enjoyed them immensely, this particular class was meaningful on a whole new level.

“I can honestly say this class held greater meaning for me, as we used the Ukraine colors for fusion and all money went to support them, she said.

Also, she noted the response to this class was tremendous, which to her shows the heart people have for helping others.

After, Mixon fired the pieces and then delivered them to the church for all to pick up.

So far, they have raised $1,370 through the class, and more contributions are still coming in.

As for Mixon, she has been overjoyed as what she called an “overwhelming response.”

“I feel blessed that God gave me this ability and desire to create the things I visualize, and it is one of my joys to help others create beautiful art pieces,” she said.

And thanks to her God-given gifts, and the support and interest of the people of Brookland UMC, the people of Ukraine have some extra love, care and prayers.

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