Bethel UMC butterflies

Gary and Peggy Wigner place a butterfly in front of a home in Madison County on Thursday evening. The congregation at Bethel United Methodist Church created dozens of the plywood butterflies to be placed around the community as signs of light, hope and joy.

ANDERSON — This time of year you might spot a monarch butterfly headed south to Mexico, or a butterfly 2-foot wide and made of plywood meant to stick around and lift the spirits of everyone who sees it.

The latter is the idea of Pastor Kristine Marshall of Bethel United Methodist Church, a.k.a. The Butterfly Church.

A talented artist, Marshall with the help of the congregation has decorated the lawn of the church and sanctuary at 4011 W. 200S with butterflies for the past three years.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched on for months Marshall was looking for a way to get the church’s message of hope and the butterflies into the community.

“We thought why not do something that would bring light and joy and would be simple,” Marshall said.

“Something that people could just see on the side of the road and find joy.”

The congregation spent weeks cutting, priming and painting 107 butterflies. They used half-inch plywood and exterior paint so the butterflies could stand up to the weather.

Then, through Facebook, they started asking for recommendations of people who might be struggling and could benefit from a butterfly in their yards.

The requests poured in and, on Thursday, a board with a hand-drawn map was dotted with colorful sticky notes marking the destinations for almost 80 of the butterflies.

Many of the recipients were suggested by someone else and will be surprised since, due to COVID-19, volunteers are placing the butterflies unannounced.

Gary Wigner and his wife, Peggy, set out Thursday evening with five butterflies to deliver. A woodworker, Gary cut out 39 butterflies and Peggy gave them a coat of primer.

“I volunteer to do stuff like that because it needs to be done,” Gary Wigner said.

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