By John Fulton
The Vicksburg United Methodist Church (VUMC) had just finished adding its Family Life Center in 2006 when members began to notice something. They saw a long, unattractive concrete wall leading down a connecting hall from the church sanctuary to the beautiful, new Center.
Trish VanTichelt was the finance treasurer at the time and her wheels were turning as to what to do about this plain-jane wall. VanTichel said,” I remember how exciting it was when my hometown church raised funds to purchase a new pipe organ by selling the organ pipes that could be etched with something on their pipe. The pipes covered a whole wall.”
VanTichelt recalled, “I wanted to incorporate something special like that, where families and friends could buy a tile to honor someone special or a special moment. The hallway is seen by the youth so often and wouldn’t it be so much meaningful and exciting for them to have a vibrant wall full of love? The wall is a fun way to express love.”
Nancy Fulton (this reporter’s mother) said, ”Over the 12 years more than 20 individuals from the church have been involved in producing the tiles. It is a way to cover up a bad, ugly wall and remember people that have contributed to VUMC and the Village of Vicksburg. The ladies of the Church have made and sponsored tiles for past members that have contributed in a significant way to VUMC and the community.”
The wall is approximately 60 feet long; 40 percent is covered by the six-inch tiles. There is at least another 36 feet of available space. The tiles are made at a local ceramic studio by church members, with input from the person sponsoring the tile. They complete them in batches when they have accumulated enough to warrant the studio fees.
The current cost to sponsor a tile is $50 with all proceeds, except the studio’s fee, going to the VUMC Building Fund. “There are currently about 238 tiles on the wall with more in the works,” Fulton said. Over $5,000 has been raised to pay down the church’s mortgage.
Fulton added, “VUMC members have come to look at the wall as more than a cover-up. It is a historical record for VUMC, members and the community. People have tiles created to commemorate marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, special scriptures, and the memory of loved ones, and to honor someone they love.”
If you would like to sponsor a tile for a friend, VUMC member past or present, contact Nancy Fulton at 269-649-1649 or the church office at 269-649-2343.