St. Louis painter battles cloning, advances pro-life view by her works
ST. LOUIS – What do the magnificent murals hanging in the Pettis County Courthouse have in common with Christian opposition to stem-cell research? The answer is that they are both part of the legacy of one energetic Missouri Baptist woman from St. Louis. Barbara Campbell carries on the spirit of Francis Schaeffer, using her God-given talents for both artistic endeavors and for Christian political activism, particularly in the arena of pro-life issues.
Campbell is a member of Sherwood Baptist in Webster Groves, pastored by Gib Adams. She co-teaches a Sunday school class, creates banners for the sanctuary, and is the chairman of Sherwood’s Christian Citizenship Committee.
Her artistry is most impressively displayed in the 40 panels of historical scenes that line the Pettis County Courthouse in Sedalia. She spent five years researching the history of the area and painting the images onto the panels. The twenty large panels each measure 3×8 feet, and the 20 smaller panels are 1-2 feet wide and 8-9 feet high. By any standard, that is a lot of painting. What is really impressive is that she broke her right wrist halfway through the project, but still managed to stay on schedule by completing some of the panels with her left hand!
Laboring for five years on one immense project, Campbell is an example to Christians of what can be accomplished when natural talent is combined with discipline and hard work. This same formula can be applied to any endeavor a Christian finds their hands involved in, and for Campbell this includes community involvement.
Campbell is the leader of a group from Sherwood Baptist that creates a float each year for Webster Groves’ Fourth of July parade. This is a well-attended event with thousands of people lining the streets. As such, the team from Sherwood seeks to make a God-glorifying statement with their artistry. They always include a verse of Scripture in the float, displaying it prominently as the theme. Their floats have won first place several times.
The ordering of the floats has sometimes lined up in a way that made for a dramatic impact. For example, one year the Campbell creation was placed in line directly behind a group of parade walkers sponsored by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). The NARAL group was led down the street by “Baton Bob”, a cross-dressing homosexual. As they marched and carried signs, they shouted a message of legalized murder.
The Sherwood Baptist float came next with a message from Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” A huge butterfly among flowers and grass sat atop the float, sending a clear message that life and beauty are aspects of divine creation and ownership. The contrast between the messages of the two floats was not missed by the spectators.
This year Campbell has been very involved in opposing the embryonic stem cell/cloning amendment in Missouri. She co-authored a brochure “Not Every Fairy Tale has a Happy Ending,” exposing the exploitation of women involved in the harvesting of eggs for embryonic research. Campbell has gone to numerous churches, helping with presentations that show the deceptiveness of this initiative. Her opposition to embryonic stem cell research is especially admirable given her lifelong struggle with muscular dystrophy. She has been in support group meetings where embryonic stem cell research was touted as a hope for those struggling with the disease. After such encounters, the words of Scripture have come to her mind: “They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive’” (Psalm 94:5-6).
Christian activism is not something new for Campbell. She serves as associate director of Concerned Women for America for Northeast Missouri. She has also served in the auxiliary for Missouri Baptist Hospital, volunteering her creative talents in the design of cookbooks. She and her husband, retired St. Louis County Circuit Judge Robert Campbell, sponsored an exchange student from Malaysia.
Her heart is to see Christians become more knowledgeable in the Scriptures, and for that knowledge to transform the church’s thinking on issues relating to all of life.
“I have a deep concern for the lack of a biblical worldview among so many believers,” she said.
With such an emphasis on art, Christian discipleship and worldview, pro-life activism, and church involvement, it is easy to see how Campbell could be identified with another creative evangelical mind like Francis Schaeffer. (Scott Lamb is pastor, Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and a regular contributor to The Pathway.)