Early in July 2014, Vanessa Sandom, then-mayor of
Hopewell Township, New Jersey, acting on behalf of
the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, contacted me as
pastor of the Titusville United Methodist Church (TUMC).
This council was not yet a year old and I had missed
the buzz about its first fundraiser, called “The
Stampede”. The mayor explained that 68 fiberglass
oxen, painted by local artists, were to be placed
throughout the area in an artistic homage to
Hopewell Valley’s agrarian past. They would later be
auctioned off to raise funds for local art programs.
She asked if TUMC would host one of these nearly
8-foot long, 100-pound statues for viewing by the
public on our church-lawn, beside NJ Route 29. I
could see the project had community-building value,
joining the area’s emerging arts culture to its
history, shared by TUMC for over 200 years. It also
meant publicity for the church. In talking with
parishioners, I found support for the idea and, on
Friday, July 18, our Board of Trustees approved it.