The Chapel altarpiece was designed and painted by Bethany professor William Bukowski, chairman of the Art Department, who has taught at the college since 1980.
The Chapel building committee approached Bukowski in March of 1993 with a request for an altarpiece with two side panels – a triptych – so it would be possible to easily change the scenes. The paintings were in progress for 18 months.
With the triptych open, the first panel, titled “Flight into Egypt,” depicts the birth of Jesus and the beginning of His persecution. Elements with the still life portion of the “Flight into Egypt” are meant to symbolize the life of Christ and His preaching.
The central panel, entitled “The Crucifixion,” emphasizes Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. The black background depicts the moment the sky went dark when Jesus died. John, Mary, and Mary Magdalene are present in the painting and are meant to show the reality of the sorrow.
The third panel, titled “Resurrection,” shows Christ’s triumph over death, the countryside of Jerusalem in the background. The slight glow around Jesus is meant to show the glorified body of God’s Son.
The closed triptych portrays Jesus with Mary and Martha at Bethany from which comes the motto of Bethany Lutheran College – “One Thing Needful.”