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August 2016:

   just a dream now,

      but someday, maybe . . .

The JESUS Gallery

Images of Jesus in Sound and Sight

An inviting space where the Gospels are proclaimed continuously.


“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them

will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”

(Matthew 7:24)


The Jesus Gallery: a place of encounter



Philip said to Jesus: “Master, show us the Father,

and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus replied: “Have I been with you for so long a time

and you still do not know me, Philip?

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

(John 14:8-9)


“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them

will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”

(Matthew 7:24)


“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.

(Matthew 17:5)


“This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.

(Mark 9:7)


“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.

(Luke 9:35)


“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”

(John 18:37)








Presentation Variations


Why The Jesus Gallery


The Physical Space A: Basics


The Physical Space B: Long-term or Transitory?

Shared space or dedicated?


Presentation Accoutrements


Why NOT The Jesus Gallery:

Objections, Drawbacks, Hesitations, Barriers


Support The Jesus Gallery By


What Can You Do Now?


Live, oral, continuous, proclamations of the four Gospels – and only the four Gospels – in a quiet, reflective space that features two- and three-dimensional art of scenes from Jesus’ life.


Using as wide a variety of proclaimers as possible; male and female, old and young, good readers and not so good, etc.  Open to walk-in, on the spot, volunteers as well as in-advance scheduled volunteers.  Emphasis on readers from the immediate or extended neighborhood of The Gallery.


NO OTHER PREACHING OR TEACHING IN THE GALLERY!  The Gallery is simply and exclusively for the oral proclamation of the gospels, with visual art of Jesus, and thereby encourages visitors to find a regular church to attend, or other scripture study resource to participate in, to learn more about Jesus.  “Now that you’ve met Jesus, go find a church where you can get to know him better.”  Aura in The Gallery should be such that visitors will want to come back to hear more and/or hear again and/or volunteer to help proclaim the Gospels.


Volunteers normally read a minimum of 1 chapter to a maximum of 1 hour at a time.


Rotating translations; seek translation recommendations from area churches and clergy.


Eventually, open every day Monday through Saturday, but at the start may only be a few days a week for a few hours per day.  Hours may vary by day.  Closed Sunday to encourage visitors to go to a church of their choosing.


Perhaps variable start and end times each day?  Purpose would be to allow varying folks a convenient time to stop in and hear a new/different Gospel or section of a Gospel.


No other services offered but lots of lists available, e.g. food pantries, job centers, area non-profits, area churches, area clergy, etc.

Presentation Variations

Sometimes instead of the proclaimer-listeners format, perhaps two to six or eight folks sitting at a round table, each taking a turn reading a passage or chapter out loud.  Always ready to add another chair to the table for a new joinee; also o.k. for one at the table to get up and leave when he/she wants to.


Especially in this variation, there might be some room for discussion of what has been read, maybe comparison of translations, or looking at a different Evangelist’s telling of the same story.  But important to be careful here that we don’t fall over into the teaching-or-preaching mode.


Perhaps not every day is the basic Matthew, Mark, Luke, John rotation.  One day might just be continuous repetition of Mark or any one Gospel.  Perhaps in Holy Week it would be just the four passion narratives, and in Easter Week just the post-Resurrection narratives.


Question: should we use pre-recorded Gospel audios if/when volunteers are not available?  An alternative is that it’s a place to view art of Jesus when there are no proclaimers, and a place for quiet meditation.  Yet the goal is to get enough proclaimers that live, oral, sharing of the gospels happens most of the time, maybe even all of the time.  Using pre-recorded audio removes the person-to-person dimension of The Gallery.  One can always listen to pre-recorded Gospels on an electronic device and in other places.  There is a definite and important benefit of live, person-to-person, proclamation in this endeavor.

Why The Jesus Gallery

Because meeting – encountering – Jesus changes everything!


Because Jesus went to the people – he did not wait for them to come to him.  He journeyed from village to village to announce the good news.  He spoke from hillside, lakeside from a boat, and at community gathering places like the well, not just in the synagogue.


To put Jesus absolutely first.  Not church, nor fellowship, nor worship, nor anything else.  It was the direct encounter with the man Jesus that led Simon, Andrew, James and John to, on the spot, abandon their boats and follow.  So too with Matthew, Nathanael, Philip, Zaccheus, Bartimaeus, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the good thief, the centurion at the cross, and countless others.  And the closest we can come to that direct, personal encounter today is to hear the Gospels proclaimed.


The hope is for a place that will draw, and be attractive to, all races, genders, ages, backgrounds: a truly welcoming place.  Especially unique opportunity for the volunteers and the visitors to meet folks they would otherwise probably never encounter.


Because the saddest thing in the world for any Christian is that there are many, many people who have never met Jesus.


Because Jesus comes first.  Only after Jesus comes church.  The Gospels are as fundamental to knowing Jesus as is knowing one’s A-B-C’s to being able to read.


Because the Gospels are “common denominators” to all Christian traditions; we all share them; we can all work together through them.


Because Jesus doesn’t just belong to Sunday mornings or churches.


And if it does work it can be replicated any where, any time.  It would be wonderful to see Jesus Galleries in communities everywhere!  Temporary Galleries in response to catastrophes or longer-term Galleries for ongoing support and evangelization in communities.

The Physical Space A: Basics

Near/within a troubled neighborhood, yet inviting and safe


Easy access in and out of building, to and from property; safe and convenient access by pedestrians; nearby parking; convenient access to public transportation


Probably NOT in a specific church to reinforce that this is NOT a ministry of – nor a recruiting tool for – any specific church or denomination


Simple but clean and inviting

Main need is for one comfortable open space.  Space does not have to be large; typical attendance may be two or three to six to ten.  A big crowd would probably be 15 to 20.  So, comfortable, quiet enough to hear the Gospels, and free of distractions.  Also, the reading of the Gospels should not be a distraction to others not there for that purpose.  For instance, if The Gallery is in a corner of a retail store it would need to be shielded – visually and auditorially – from the rest of the store.


Decorate the walls with portraits of Jesus offered by attendees and benefactors; maybe some statuary also, but must be Jesus statuary.


Some tables as well as chairs.  Have blank paper and drawing/coloring tools available for anyone who wants to write or draw while listening.


Restrooms?  (Needed for volunteers/staff; shared with neighbors would be sufficient.)


Literature racks and/or bulletin boards for area churches and area social services; two sections of information:



The Physical Space B:

Long-term or transitory?  Shared space or dedicated?

Maybe it’s not one specific physical space?  Maybe it’s a very temporary space, a couple of days to two- or three-months at a spot?  Not so similar to the church model as to the traveling circus-tent (or revival tent?) model?  Or even a “speakers corner” model?  Remember that Jesus himself was an itinerant preacher!  Bookmobile concept; revival tent ministries.


Perhaps could be “hosted” by places such as a St. Vincent de Paul store, Goodwill store, a community center, a YMCA, a local college.  This could facilitate – or even require – short-term stays in one place, e.g. two or three months.


Would a retail strip landlord loan/donate an empty store front space to The Jesus Gallery?  Would such a landlord be more interested in the concept if it’s just for three months or so?


This might encourage “pop-up” Jesus Galleries, e.g. as part of the emergency response to a natural disaster or human mis-deed.  If the Red Cross and/or the National Guard is called out to a situation, perhaps a Jesus Gallery could be another aspect of the community response.


But not to rule out a longer-term, semi-permanent space that serves as an important community resource for frequent visitation, similar to a small branch public library.


Space Optionals: “nice to have” but not essential: separate spaces (or rooms) for small-group and/or one-on-one conversations?  Office?

Presentation Accoutrements

Should there be an ambo or podium?  Jesus spoke from a spot on the mountain or seated in a boat at the edge of the lake.


Have a means for displaying which Gospel is being read and which chapter; the ultimate would even display the verse and update automatically as the reader progresses.  But that points toward some sort of electronics system, and that points to higher investment/overhead, which seems very un-Jesus like.  Could we just read and project directly from  (After all, they do have all the translations.)


Could the reader be charged with flipping a number card each time he/she gets to a new chapter?  A sign indicating which Gospel we’re in would have been put up at the beginning.   That does suggest an ambo or podium of some sort.  Should also have a sign indicating what translation is being read.  Translation, Gospel, chapter info could probably be displayed in a very low-tech way.

Why NOT The Jesus Gallery:

Objections, Drawbacks, Hesitations, Barriers

Jesus felt compassion for the crowds and fed the multitudes.  In the present vision, such direct charity is explicitly not a part of The Jesus Gallery.  The rationalization for this is that there are many, many agencies and charities that are already performing this service and many other wonderful services.  But many people, especially the poor, are still not meeting Jesus.  Is this just rationalization, an excuse, an easy way out?  What would Dorothy Day, or Mother Theresa of Calcutta, or Saint Francis of Assisi, or Maximilian Kolbe, or Henri Nouwen say about this design?  Is this just another form of selfishness, unwillingness to share, unwillingness to give away: “O.k., I’ll read to you for a bit, but I won’t share my lunch.”


Numbers will be small.  Just a guess – no way of really knowing.  Is it worth the effort?  But, everyone who is touched will be changed, so not to worry about the numbers.  Hey, and it may draw volunteers, and might the impact on the volunteers be as important as on the visitors?  The real benefit may be that both volunteers and visitors will have a chance to meet people they would not otherwise encounter in life.


Time commitment?  I’m trying to ease my life, yet here I am conceptualizing a retail-style ministry that should run five and a half days a week.  Is this wise for me personally?  Can sufficient supporters/volunteers be lined up so that I don’t have to be there all the open hours?


Costs?  Space and utilities being the big ones.  Will those be donated?


Misunderstandings; exaggerated expectations; confrontations between volunteers and visitors.  Why won’t Jesus heal me?  Why did Jesus let my loved one die?  Why does God allow such awful things to happen?  Will volunteers be comfortable handling such questions?

Support The Jesus Gallery By:



Test the concept yourself.  Begin a routine of reading from the Gospels every day, especially continuous, sequential reading, not jumping from spot to spot.  Then let me know what impact it is having on your life.  For added impact, read it aloud or listen to it being read.  Youtube has several gospel audios and so does


When open, come visit The Gallery to listen to and/or help proclaim the Word.


Word-of-mouth to your friends and neighbors about us.


Create a portrait of Jesus for us to display in the space; local children’s art especially welcome.


Donate or loan appropriate works of art, two- or three-dimensional, to The Jesus Gallery for display.


Volunteering to read – either “on the spot” or taking a regular or scheduled time slot.


Recommending translations to include.


Send us gently used Bibles (or just New Testaments or Gospels) to read from and give away.


Help with routine cleaning and maintenance.


Contribute suggestions.


Not looking for monetary contributions at this time.


SPECIAL: but definitely looking for a handful of folks who would be willing to make a significant personal investment of TIME in running/operating The Jesus Gallery.  For example, six all-day managers, or twelve half-day managers.


Start a Jesus Gallery where you are!  Whenever, wherever you see a need!

What Can You Do Now?

Tell me what you think.  What do you like and not like about the concept?  Do you think people will come?


Test the concept yourself.  Begin a routine of reading from the Gospels every day and let me know what impact it is having on your life.


What level of personal, direct, SUPPORT might you be willing to provide?  To serve as a regular reader?  To serve as “Gallery Manager” a day or a half day per week or month?  Might you provide any monetary support?


Do you own or manage any retail space in the South Bend area where The Gallery might be located?  Or do you know well someone who does?  Will you help me set up conversations with such people?





Please direct feedback to John Tugman at:


John Tugman is husband of Manuela, father of Lisa, Tanya and Matthew, and grandfather of seven.  He was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Catholic Church in 1991 in Connecticut, where he served until relocating to Indiana in 2006.  He resumed diaconal service in 2008 at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger, Indiana, from which he retired in the summer of 2016.  Since retiring from active ministry he has worshipped at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Wilber Street and become active in the northwest neighborhoods of South Bend.  He also created and maintains another Christian website,


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