Bobby's Bama: Altar of the New Testament

Altar of the New Testament at Athens State Chapel
Altar of the New Testament at Athens State Chapel

­The "Altar of the New Testament" has been in the Athens State Chapel since 1970. The artist in residence was a 1912 graduate of Athens, Eunice McDonald Meadows - the daughter of a Methodist minister and a very devout Christian.

Archivist Sara Love said there is a lot of history here.

"She graduated here and got a degree in art. Taught art all her life. She did sculpturing, painting, water colors and oils and loved it… But the most important thing she did at our campus was the beautiful carvings here at founders hall," said Love.

The wooden carvings on the front of the altar are the authors of the four Gospels of Christ: Matthew, Mark; Luke and John. The wood is tulip poplar.

After she retired from teaching, her husband passed away and her children were grown and gone, Mrs. Meadows decided to come back to her college and serve.

"The first occasion she came back and did some restoration work on some of the portraits we have on campus… The second time she came back, Dr. Sidney Standridge was here and she asked if she could come here and live in this second floor apartment… She set up the front room as her painting room", said Love.

Love said Meadows spent many of her "later years" on campus sharing her love of art and completing this project. It also includes other panels.

"And then she had the Christ rising up and she added the five different tribes of creation, and this is Isaiah," said Love.

Isaiah is depicted writing his prophecy on the coming of Christ. A baptismal font shows a carving of the artist's children and parents. Panels for a pulpit depicting St. Paul and a lectern depicting St. Peter were also crafted.

The time and effort it takes to make something like this is incredible. The Altar of the New Testament and all these wood carvings took this artist in residence about 12 years to complete.

The painting that depicts the face of Christ came to her in a dream.

"She immediately got up and started painting. It's a beautiful painting that has hung here in this chapel for many, many years," said Love.

Hopefully many people will be able to see it.

All of the artwork was done as a testament of faith from one woman whose inspiration lives on in Bobby's Bama.

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