(RNS) Hanging in the hallways of Broadway Church, a historic stone structure in midtown Kansas City, Mo., are more than 200 artistic portrayals of Jesus. Inspired by Salvador Dali’s “Christ of St. John of the Cross,” the church’s former pastor, Paul R. Smith, began collecting these “faces of Jesus,” which were mounted in 1996.

Images grab us in ways words don’t or propositions don’t, Smith believes.

The permanent exhibit includes a huge quilt of Jesus on the cross, an image of Jesus laughing (originally published in Playboy), Jesus depicted as a donkey, Jesus as a crucified pregnant woman and even an image representing evolution. One section of the exhibit titled “The Face of Jesus in Every Person,” includes images of Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, St. Francis and a mirror reflecting visitors.

What kind of church is Broadway? According to its statement, “Broadway is an inclusive, theologically progressive, healing community focused on the spiritual transformation that comes from following Jesus Christ.”

In the video below, Smith introduces us to the “Faces of Jesus” exhibit through a personal tour and preview of several images. The photo slideshow displays a few featured images.

Photos are courtesy of Paul R. Smith. Religion News Service video by Sally Morrow

 Click on any image below to view slideshow.

8 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an actual photo of Jesus or any of his apostles? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could verify in these much latter times that Jesus had actually lived and was not a concoction of scribes at the time?

    • Do you assume that scribes did in fact concoct the person of Jesus and that he is not a historical person? If so, then surely no photograph would convince you either, since it is almost as easy to fake a photo as invent fiction.

  2. This is a delightful interview with a delightful pastor. Thanks for posting this Sally!

    Perhaps our desire to be right and silence dissenting voices is the reason why we get embroiled in mundane and banal discussions over needing a “picture” to “prove” the historical veracity of Jesus (as if that is even possible). That’s an exercise in missing the point. The point is that the picture is a window– one of countless windows– that allows us to glimpse a bit of the Ultimate Reality of Love and compassion and beauty that beckons is all to become the most beautiful version of ourselves.

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