Photo with Sept. 11 theme garners top ERLC prize

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A foggy night and a field full of U.S. flags provided Ashley Mitchell an opportunity she could not overlook as she neared her home in Memphis, Tenn.

“It was breathtaking,” Mitchell said. “So I pulled over, grabbed my camera that I had on the passenger seat and went on my own little photo challenge.”

After learning from a police officer patrolling the area that the display commemorated the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, Mitchell spent an hour after midnight in the expanse of flags.

When Mitchell learned of the “Faith, Family, & Freedom” photo contest of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, she believed her photograph could become something more than a late-night creative adventure.

Mitchell submitted the photograph with the title, “The Light Shines in the Darkness,” and was chosen as the Grand Prize winner of the contest.

“In the Book of John it talks about Christ shining as a ‘light in the darkness,’” Mitchell said. “I wanted the image to portray Christ’s light over every life that was claimed in the terrorist attack Sept. 11. Even in the midst of our nation’s darkest hour, Christ’s light is still there. He is unmistakable and unavoidable, and He pierces the darkness.”

All of the winning photographs are now available for viewing on two of the ERLC’s websites, erlc.com and faithandfamily.com. The images were displayed in the ERLC’s exhibit area at the SBC’s mid-June annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

“All the winning images have themes that fit in with various parts of the ERLC’s charter,” ERLC President Richard Land said. “The photographs are a perfect example of how talented and creative people are in America.”

Mitchell chose a Canon EOS SLR digital camera for her prize. The other top four winners were awarded a Canon Digital Rebel XT camera, a Mac mini computer, Aperture photography software and a 1-gig iPod Nano.

Jim Sanders of West Frankfort, Ill., won second place with his photo, “Rapture Practice?” Sanders’ image captured the faith of a son in his father as they spent a day at the lake.

The third-place winner, Laura Rogers of Fort Bragg, Calif., took a photograph of a vacant pew at a church she has attended for many years. Rogers met and married her husband at the church and continues to worship there. She titled her work, “Photosynthesis,” to describe the changes that take place in a life through faith.

Jonathan Blair and Roger Hollar, both of Fort Worth, Texas, were awarded fourth and fifth place, respectively.


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