Rockford church hires artist, fundraising $30,000 for peace mural

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Second First Church in Rockford is sprucing up one of its walls with a mural meant to unite neighborhood residents.

Sue Kanthank, Executive Director of Jeremiah Development, said, “This mural will shine a spotlight on this neighborhood.”

The wall on the Second Congregational UCC/First Presbyterian Church, at 318 N Church Street, is blank now, but could change very soon.

“We really just want to project, into the West Side, all the peace and love that we can,” said Senior Pastor Rebecca White Newgren.

Newgren hired artist Tia Richardson to paint a mural on the wall to spread a message of peace. Richardson painted murals in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park following riots there in 2016.

“I saw what it can do in my hometown and that a mural involved a lot of different people, sharing their own perspectives,” Richardson said. “And we don’t have to agree in order to share what’s important to us.”

The church is trying to raise $30,000 online to pay for the mural.

“The [fundraiser] is all or nothing, so we, in the next 45 days, we’re either going to raise the money, or we won’t,” Newgren said.

Organizers believe Rockford residents will step up to the plate.

Kanthak said, “From past experiences, Rockford has a big heart. The people in Rockford have huge hearts. And, when you’re very specific about what you need, and if the need is a valid need, which this is, they help.”

If successful, Richardson says it will be up to the community to determine what is painted on the wall.

“We’ll give you options,” she said. “We will give you markers and paper and you can draw stick figures. You don’t have to be an artist. You’re giving me ingredients, as community members and as voices. And I’m taking those ingredients and we’re making community soup together. So, by putting markers on paper, you’re telling me what kind of flavor you want to bring to the mural.”

The Kicktraq fundraiser is live now until October 6th.

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