Rural Missouri - September 2021 - 20

T
hey come from far and
wide - grandparents
both young and old with
children in tow; young
couples with babies in strollers;
small clubs and large groups.
Even husbands stand, mouths
agape, pointing in awe of the
unexpected beauty which
hey come from far and
wide - grandparents
both young and old with
children in tow; young
couples with babies in strollers;
small clubs and large groups.
Even husbands stand, mouths
agape, pointing in awe of the
unexpected beauty which
surrounds them.
The destination is Precious
Moments Chapel
in Carthage. For many
travelers, it's a vacation
stop, but for others, it is a
sort of pilgrimage to a place
offering peace in an impressive
setting. While the grounds surrounding
the chapel are tranquil,
it's usually through the painted
imagery of renowned artist Sam
offering peace in an impressive
setting. While the grounds surrounding
the chapel are tranquil,
it's usually through the painted
imagery of renowned artist Sam
Butcher that hearts are touched.
Sam, 82, is the creator of
Precious Moments. From
soulful teardrop-eyed fi gurines
to the inspiring chapel in
southwest Missouri, his
Butcher that hearts are touched.
Sam, 82, is the creator of
Precious Moments. From
soulful teardrop-eyed fi gurines
to the inspiring chapel in
southwest Missouri, his
handiwork is recognizable
worldwide. Since the release of his fi rst fi gurine in 1978
titled " Love One Another, " the artist's creations have
been in demand by collectors for many reasons and
occasions. Even the Precious Moments iconic large eyes
are copyrighted.
" My daughter, Beth, collected Precious Moments when
she was in high school, " says Velma Goertzen of Kansas.
" She was killed by a drunk driver in 1985. Soon after, my
son and his wife went through Carthage and stopped to
see what Precious Moments was all about. He came home
and said, 'Mom, you've got to go.' "
Velma did and still does twice a year, once for the annual
collectors' reunion and again at Christmastime.
" There's an angel by the gate in Mr. Butcher's chapel
mural that holds a pink rose, " recalls Velma, noting she has
her daughter's Precious Moments collection and adds pieces
to it as a fi gurine brings back a special memory for her. " In
my mind's eye, that angel is my Beth. For me, the chapel
offers peace as well as a beautiful place to remember. "
When the artist moved his family from Michigan to Carthage
in the mid 1980s, son Jon recalls it being similar to
a Bible story.
" It was a bit like Noah and his sons building an ark in
the middle of the desert, " says Jon. " Nobody knew what he
was doing. He was trying to explain it and people were like,
'Oh, a Sistine Chapel in Carthage, that's interesting.' "
Soon a 9,000-square-foot chapel building emerged from
the rural landscape and Sam began painting the inside walls.
Pevious page: Precious Moments Chapel is a favorite stop for
travelers visiting Carthage. The 9,000-square-foot chapel was built by
renowned artist Sam Butcher. Above: The " Heart of Gold " fi gurine is
a tribute to the noble medical professionals. Right: " You And I Are a
Perfect Picture " portrays a young couple capturing a memory.
20 RURAL MISSOURI | SEPTEMBER 2021
sort of pilgrimage to a place
The dream for Precious Moments Chapel was born while
Sam was driving home from a business trip. As he drove
back home to Michigan, he stopped in Missouri overnight
and found the 33 acres which is now home to the chapel,
museum, gift shop and more. According to Jon - one of
Sam's seven children - it took his dad three years working
10-hour days seven days a week to complete for opening
what is often described as " America's Sistine Chapel. "
The chapel was opened in 1989 and according to his
son has been the stop of comfort and inspiration for millions
of people.
While he studied art in college, it wasn't until his late
30s that Sam got his fi rst offi cial job as an artist working
as an illustrator for Christian Evangelism Fellowship magazine
making $75 a week. Not long after he started drawing
Precious Moments fi gures for a greeting card line with
best friend and then-business partner, Bill Biel. His work
caught the eye of Eugene Friedman, president of Enesco
Imports of Chicago, who envisioned Sam's sweet-eyed children
in 3D fi gures and more. The rest is collectible history.
" The Precious Moments collection is Dad's greatest
legacy from a business perspective, " says Jon. " From an
artistic perspective, I'd say Precious Moments Chapel is his
biggest legacy. "
Today the Precious Moments line includes thousands
of designs, some retired and others created over and over
again. Collectors reach around the globe and seem to have
one common thread, according to Mishell Hoover, vicepresident
of the Precious Moments Foundation. " They fall
in love with a fi gurine that reminds them of a snapshot or
milestone in their life. "
Mishell, who has worked at Precious Moments for 32 of
its 40-plus years, says she feels Sam's fi gures capture what
people would often like to say but can't fi nd words for.
" Since the beginning, his art has showcased
loving, caring and sharing, " says Mishell.
loving, caring and sharing, " says Mishell.
" I think that love is the constant common
denominator -
and something we
" I think that love is the constant common
denominator -
and something we
can all use more
of these days. "
Just past
the foyer of the
Italianate stucco
chapel structure,
double
doors open to
the tall chapel
walls lined with
art painted by
Sam. The front wall
is host to the chapel's
Sam. The front wall
is host to the chapel's
largest mural, which is
the 40-feet high and 20feet
wide aptly named
" Hallelujah Square. " It
seems to sum up what
Sam feels heaven will
be like: cheerful, loving,
beautiful and welcoming.
Mothers hug children,
angels welcome newlargest
mural, which is
the 40-feet high and 20feet
wide aptly named
" Hallelujah Square. " It
seems to sum up what
Sam feels heaven will
be like: cheerful, loving,
beautiful and welcoming.
Mothers hug children,
angels welcome new

Rural Missouri - September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Cover1
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Rural Missouri - September 2021 - Contents
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