For the past 8 years Paula Hartzell has been a consultant to congregations on information about the most contemporary religious resources through her work as Director of the Interfaith Resource Center, in Wilmington, DE. Now she is retiring to follow other pursuits and is handing the keys and resource materials to Sister Barbara Jean Brown.
The Interfaith Resource Center, with a board of Christians, Muslims and Jews, primarily serves churches in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, by providing books, curriculum, programs and other religious resources to borrow or preview. Hartzell’s primary role for the collection has been librarian with a focus on faith formation maintaining the perspective of ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. She also taught courses such as the art history of early faith traditions and the images of Mary, as well as conducted curriculum trainings such as vacation bible school methods.
Some of Hartzell’s major accomplishments while at the IRC include updating the organization’s technology as well as the adult studies collection. She also initiated changes to make the center friendlier toward small churches. For instance congregations under 100 members now only pay a $30 annual fee for unlimited access to all materials. She says, “This reflects our commitment to be faithful to congregations as it allows even the smallest churches to have the opportunity to take advantage of the most contemporary resources they couldn’t afford any other way.”
Hartzell takes with her the exposure to thousands of resources as she has previewed them all: “What a gift to be exposed to all this!” For Paula Hartzell, her work at the IRC has been her participation in Jesus’ “Great Commission”:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18).
As Paula steps out of the director role she hopes to engage in personal study and take the Education for Ministry (EFM) courses. She also has some writing projects that she has been working on such her posts on the Building Faith online Christian Ed community and even a ghost story is in progress!
At this point Paula wants to be open to the Lord’s direction and guidance. “He’s led me all this way and has given me things that very well suit who I am.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
One of Paula’s strongest passions is her art. From still life, to abstract, and portraits, her paintings are vibrant. And so is Paula as she describes her current project based on Paula Fredriksen’s study From Jesus to Christ. Paula Hartzell’s 9 panel montage “From Jesus to Christ” depicts the evolution of the understanding of Christ’s divinity through the gospels. She says, “It’s taking my understanding of scripture and ancient imaging and reconciling them from a modern point of view.” The piece reflects moments of epiphany from each of the gospels as they move from Mark’s more human understanding of Jesus, to John’s clear focus on Christ’s divinity.
“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).