The Importance of Community Connections

Photograph by Andrew Murdock

The relationships forged through the ministries of the Mission extend beyond the borders of our campus to reach deeply into the Frederick community. Recently, we were pleased to discover the story of how two local artists and the Mission’s Outreach Coordinator Teri Kwiatek each contributed to preserving the memory of a frequent Mission guest named Mark, who died in 2018. 

It all started at the 2014 Clustered Spires High Wheel Race where Nick Ackermann met local Frederick photographer Andrew Murdock. After their meeting, Nick visited Andrew’s website, natural-artistry.com, and was captivated by one face in particular – Mark’s – because of the deeply etched lines in his skin. Inspired to practice his emerging sketching skills, he contacted Andrew to request permission to use his photograph. 

Drawing by Nick Ackermann

After completing the portrait, Nick considered where it might be displayed. Andrew connected him to Teri Kwiatek, suggesting that the Mission was “perhaps the closest thing Mark had to a home.” He brought the portrait to the Mission, eager to learn more about the man with the interesting face. Teri told him that Mark traveled widely, often bringing her trinkets he had collected along the way. Shortly before he died, Mark was hospitalized and asked Teri to be his personal advocate with the hospital. She readily agreed. 

A week later, Teri received a phone call from the hospital informing her that Mark had died. They found her name and contact information in Mark’s pocket. If not for this single piece of paper, he might have died without anyone knowing what happened to him. 

Nick, Andrew, and Teri each added a piece to the limited composite we have of Mark’s life. The sketch of Mark is an elegant and powerful work of art, capable of stirring admiration simply on the basis of its own beauty. And yet, it is much more – it is a permanent reminder of the value of every human life, and a testimony to the impact the Mission has on relationships within our community.