A painting of Jesus already adorned the two-story brick building at Washington Avenue and 14th Avenue S. in Minneapolis when Love Power Church began renting the building in 1995. But it was founding pastor Ann Sandell’s vision that reinforced it as an iconic fixture in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
It was her idea to repaint the wall as the colorful, sui generis artwork it is today. Although the nondenominational congregation moved earlier this year to a new site in north Minneapolis, the mural — with its outstretched arms and rainbow — remains a representation of Sandell’s desire to invite everyone to learn about Jesus.
“This was her heart,” said Janet Gullickson, the church’s senior pastor. “She wanted to have a billboard so she could boast and brag about Jesus.”
Sandell, who founded Love Power Church in 1982, died Sept. 17 of Alzheimer’s disease at Camilia Rose Care Center in Coon Rapids. She was 86.
The native of Superior, Wis., met her husband, Ray, while she was in high school. They married in 1952 and she became a homemaker. In free moments she painted, sometimes exhibiting her artwork and helping her husband, a music teacher at Spring Lake Park High School, with school pop concerts.
Then the couple lost two children, RayAnn and Scott, to rare diseases, according to Renee Williams of Chanhassen, their youngest daughter. She became “really angry at God,” Williams said, and lost her faith.
But she found it again when she was 40 years old, Gullickson said. In 1978, she founded Love Power Music and Miracles Ministry in Minneapolis, pouring “all of her passion into her faith and ministry,” Williams said.
Sandell and Gullickson hosted Bible studies at different homes and founded Love Power Church at the behest of followers. “She would just get deep revelation,” Gullickson said. “She called it the ‘secret place.’ She’d get in the secret place of the Lord.”
Over time, the church started a radio show and a cable TV program that recently broadcast its 1,600th show. Sandell interviewed notable figures, including evangelist Billy Graham, U.S. District Judge Miles Lord and actress Dale Evans, and traveled around the world on mission trips. In 1990, she founded the Ann Sandell Independent School of Monrovia, Liberia, which she visited in 2009.
Inspired by Sandell’s visions, the church launched a number of programs reflecting its mission: street evangelism, feeding and clothing programs, prison ministry and nursing home concerts. In the early 2000s, Sandell planned a shelter for homeless working men at the church but ran into funding issues and opposition from nearby businesses.
“We feel like we’re continuing her work,” Gullickson said.
Aside from her church work, Sandell was deeply involved in the arts and athletics. Ray Sandell said she was a terrific table tennis player, and Williams said that golf balls would drop from the roof as she practiced her swing in the backyard. She ran 5 miles a day until she no longer could, often writing sermons on a notepad while she ran, Gullickson said.
“We loved music, we loved art and we traveled all over the world,” said Ray Sandell, of Spring Lake Park. “She was good at a lot of things; that’s what I liked about her.”
Williams said she planned to take her son to visit the Sandell School in Liberia. “It’s just amazing, the things that she was able to get done in a lifetime,” she said.
Besides her husband and daughter Renee, Sandell is survived by her daughter Robin Lee of Ham Lake, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Services have been held.