“The Church of Prophecy” drawing by the late renowned artist Jim Branscum was presented to The Church of God during the Bible Training Institute celebration of Heritage Day on June 10.
Presented by Church of Prophecy Markers Association director James Horne, it was received by General Overseer Oscar Pimentel and dedicated with prayer by the school.
Branscum was born in 1945 to Thurman and Georgia Branscum. His father was a licensed evangelist in the Church of God of Prophecy and served as pastor in Oklahoma and Arizona before appointment as provincial overseer in British Columbia, Canada. His experiences as a minister’s son eventually moved him to complete the drawing “The Church of Prophecy.”
Branscum was a nationally renowned, award-winning artist whose works have been commissioned by a multitude of notables within entertainment, business and government communities. His powerfully rendered bust of Waylon Jennings is pictured on the cover of the singers New Classic Waylon album. His dramatic life-size bronze “The Three Graces” is permanently displayed at a massive commercial complex near Phoenix, Arizona. A memorial commissioned by the state of Arizona to honor the veterans of the Korean conflict was designed by the artist and erected adjacent to the state capitol building where it is viewed by thousands daily.
The artist’s talent as a sculptor is truly laudable, but he is even more celebrated for his incredible pencil drawings. He has two series to his credit: the first, drawings depicting significant aspects of the daily life of the different indigenous tribes of Arizona; and the “Aging in America” series which was exhibited at the 1995 White House Conference on Aging in Washington, D.C.
In preparation for the drawing, The Church of Prophecy, Branscum relied on intensive research of the history of the church which included reading Lillie Duggar’s biography of A.J. Tomlinson. He was impressed by A.J. Tomlinson’s vision of and commitment to building the Church of the Bible. The completed work conveys the vision and significance of the last days Church to all who view it.
Branscum, 69, passed away Feb. 10, 2015, a few months after accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.
A video was shown at the ceremony depicting his artwork. “The Church of Prophecy” drawing was done by Branscum in the late 1970s and presented to the church in 1979, to be displayed and appreciated as a historical documentation of the church.
When the church no longer displayed the piece, Branscum desired it to be returned. He died before the return of the drawing, but at his request, the Church of God of Prophecy was contacted by his family and the church graciously agreed to honor his request and returned the artwork to the family – specifically to his brother, Mark Branscum, to whom all Branscum artwork was bequeathed.
Initially, the family intended to display Branscum’s work locally, but decided, after consultation with other family members, to donate the piece to The Church of God with the provision that it be publicly displayed.
The artist wrote this about his “The Church of Prophecy” work: “In January 1979, I was visited by my brother Donald, a Church of God minister, who was pastoring in Bremerton, Washington, at the time. I was working on a portrait sketch of a prominent Arizona horse trainer and rancher. The portrait told the story of the man’s life using depictions of notable events surrounding his portrait in chronological fashion. Don first suggested the idea of a ‘historical portrait’ of the Church. Because I considered getting such a commission highly improbable, and having a full schedule of shows, little thought was given to the idea.”
“Months later I was showing the story portrait to Earle Shroyer, a member of the Phoenix church [at that time]. I mentioned my brother’s idea and Earle was enthusiastic but I still did not consider that I could get a commission to do the piece. However, within weeks of that day, all shows that required my attendance were cancelled and I was in Cleveland, Tennessee, researching the early history of the church for the most important commission of my life – a pictorial history of The Church of God.”
The scenes in the artwork serve to represent the discovery of the last day’s church this side of the dark ages and some aspects of its work and its mission, including:
– First and Last: Jesus Christ the head of the Church.
– Following a shaft of light on the left: A.J. Tomlinson kneeling where he first saw the light of the Church 38 years earlier on June 13, 1903.
– Bottom left: W.F. Bryant home, site of the first Assembly, held Jan. 26, 1906.
– The minutes of the first Assembly recommended, advised and urged that local churches have a Sunday school throughout the year, and to organize Sunday schools in new areas where it was not possible to organize a church. The children above the W.F. Bryant home represent this Sunday school effort. In addition, the children represent the universality of the Church.