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Latest from Mormon Land: New battle erupts over Minerva Teichert’s paintings, and a shoutout to the ‘miracle’ COVID vaccine

Grandson sues the church to get possession of artist’s work, and church President Russell Nelson salutes the “safe and effective” shots.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The LDS Church was poised last year to remove three original paintings by LDS artist Minerva Teichert from an east Salt Lake City chapel, including “Shepherds of Bethlehem,” left, and “Three women encountering an angel at the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea." A new legal battle has erupted over who owns the paintings.

The Mormon Land newsletter is a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can support Mormon Land with a donation at Patreon.com/mormonland, where you can access, among other exclusive gifts and content, transcripts from our “Mormon Land” podcasts.

Another battle over art

While the church backed away from its plans to remove a beloved mural by painter Minerva Teichert from the Manti Temple, it finds itself embroiled in another battle over the legendary artist’s works.

Teichert’s grandson is suing the church, alleging the Salt Lake City-based faith wrongfully moved and claimed ownership of paintings by his grandmother in buildings across Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

In his recently filed federal suit, the Casper Star-Tribune reports, Tim Teichert argues the artist had an agreement with the church that if her paintings were ever transferred or taken down, they would be returned to her or her heirs.

Two Teichert originals — “Cast Your Net to the Other Side” and “Handcart Pioneers” — were removed last year from a chapel in Cokeville, Wyo., The Salt Lake Tribune reported last August. More were due to come down at an east Salt Lake City meetinghouse.

The grandson insists the family owns the paintings. The church counters that it owns the works and their copyrights.

“The church will continue to defend those interests as the case moves through the legal process,” spokesperson Sam Penrod told the Casper Star-Tribune, “so that we may preserve and protect this artwork for generations to come.”

Not everyone agrees this is the best approach.

“I want to see these pieces in their original homes,” Rita Wright, director of the Springville Museum of Art, told The Salt Lake Tribune last year. The church has “ripped them from the community that provided the background and context for meaning.”

The miracle of the vaccine

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Church President Russell M. Nelson receives the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Nelson has called the vaccine "miraculous."

The COVID-19 vaccine is a miracle.

So stated church President Russell M. Nelson way back when he received his first dose.

“We have prayed often for this literal godsend,” he wrote Jan. 19 on Facebook. “As a former surgeon and medical researcher, I know something of the effort needed to accomplish such a remarkable feat. Producing a safe, effective vaccine in less than a year is nothing short of miraculous.”

Nelson and his counselors in the governing First Presidency reinforced the merits of this miracle last week when they urged members to get the shots and reassured them that the “vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.”

By Common Consent blogger Jared Cook pointed to scriptures that say believers often have to “wait upon the Lord” to witness miracles.

Thankfully, billions of people on the planet didn’t have to wait years for this “miracle” of modern medicine to be deployed as the primary weapon in the war against the coronavirus.

“I don’t pretend to understand all the science behind the vaccines,” Cook wrote, “but as I have read about the efforts of those working on it, the science is marvelous to me. The Lord did hear our prayers and answered them. He is a God of miracles.”

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