LRU News

LRU to Receive 12-Foot Statue of Martin Luther

Fri Oct 1 2010

Lenoir-Rhyne University will soon be home to one of the world’s largest statues of Martin Luther, whose teaching launched the Protestant Reformation and created the Lutheran Church. This 12-foot granite statue is expected to be delivered to campus and erected on Monday morning, Oct. 4 with a dedication to follow on Saturday, Oct. 9 during Homecoming festivities.

Lenoir-Rhyne was founded in 1891 by four Lutheran pastors and is affiliated with the N.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The statue is a gift from Charlotte philanthropist Irwin Belk, who previously donated nine bronze statues of athletes playing different sports to Lenoir-Rhyne. His generosity also helped fund the LRU Irwin Belk Track.

The statue will be placed on a pedestal in front of Shaw Plaza, the highest point on campus. Jon Hair, a sculptor from Cornelius, N.C, designed this statue.

Since beginning his sculpting career in 1999, Hair has completed more than 30 major public art commissions. His 35-foot bronze and steel monument entitled “Olympic Strength” stands in front of the U.S. Olympic Training Center. He also created “The Boilermaker,” a massive 26-foot bronze sculpture, for Purdue University.

In addition, Hair has completed commissions from the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and several universities and corporations. He recently completed a bust of American playwright Eugene O’Neill for the city of Shanghai. He said he enjoys sculpting historical figures because of his lifelong interest in history and his talent for portraiture.

Hair majored in fine arts at Ohio State University and Columbus College of Art & Design. He previously taught at the University of Akron and owned a graphic design business. Hair said the Martin Luther statue is the largest stone sculpture he has ever created. Granite is a very dense and heavy material that is difficult to carve but is more permanent than most other materials, including marble. More information about the sculptor is available at www.jonhair.com.

Martin Luther was a German priest and scholar who lived from 1483 to 1546. In 1517, he nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church door, challenging certain beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church. Called upon by Pope Leon X to recant his radical teaching, Luther refused. As a result, he was excommunicated from the church and declared an outlaw.

Luther later translated the Bible from Latin into German, the language of the people. He married a former nun, restoring the earlier tradition of clerical marriage. Luther wrote many hymns, including “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” helping to create the tradition of congregational singing.

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