On a snowy Saturday morning in January, Alan Wolfard had his hands full. An old washing machine had unexpectedly lurched into its death throes, flooding his house and causing thousands of dollars in damage.
“I was angry, frustrated, and ripping the ruined flooring out,” says Wolfard, pastor of Bloomfield Assembly in New Mexico. But as he headed for the door en route to the store for new flooring, he says the Lord reminded him of a promise he had made to his children.
The 45-year-old father remembered that the night before, as a heavy winter storm rolled through, he had vowed to his 7-year-old daughter, Ellyana, and 4-year-old son, Kai, that they would build a snowman the next morning.
Wolfard went outside with his kids and found the frozen precipitation to be perfect packing snow. He asked Kai what kind of snow creation he wanted. His son requested Batman.
Using an action figure as a model and with the help of his family, Wolfard — who nurtured the skills of a multimedia artist in childhood — turned three-hours of work packing and carving an 8-foot-high mound of snow into a glistening, icy sculpture that did the “Caped Crusader” proud.
Word-of-mouth from passersby spread the news quickly. Through the next several days, a steady stream of cars drove by, delighted passengers who leaped out to chat and take photos. KRQE News in Albuquerque dispatched a camera crew, which telecast images from the lawn. The story of “Pastor Batman” went viral on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media outlets.
In his nearly 20 years at Bloomfield Assembly — 19 as a youth and associate pastor before being elected senior pastor in May 2018 — Wolfard, his wife Sheila, and ministry staff have had a heart for serving in the northwestern New Mexico community of 7,100.
In recent years, that commitment has included providing teachers, bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria workers, and other staff with welcome-back-to-school gift bags. Bloomfield Assembly also has supplied new shoes and socks to hundreds of needy students and donated time to help spruce up campus properties.
Additionally, Wolfard has volunteered his artistic talents to design, paint, and build sets for local high school theater productions.
When that Saturday morning came with its washing machine disaster, Wolfard admits he didn’t, at first, see it as a divine segue to answered prayer to be a better leader. Although the experience began as a kept promise to his kids, he says God made something bigger out of it.
Wolfard’s frozen, bigger-than-life tribute to Batman also attracted the attention of the Bloomfield Police Department. While on patrol, Sgt. Craig Barker spotted the snow art and immediately posted it on Facebook.
“Bloomfield Batman brought our community joy and interim Chief Randon Matthews knew whoever it was deserved recognition and our heartfelt thanks,” says BPD spokeswoman Suzanne Moore. The department invited Wolfard and his family for a visit and awarded the pastor its official certificate of appreciation “for his community spirit and crime fighting prowess.”
As the snowstorms continued, so did Wolfard’s sculptures. Wolfard fulfilled a request from Ellyana to create Wonder Woman and soon that figure delighted Bloomfield residents. More recently, Clifford the Big Red Dog appeared as a white addition to the frozen gallery.
Community goodwill aside, Bloomfield Assembly, which had averaged about 150 worshippers on Sundays, experienced a swell in attendance in the wake of the snow art phenomenon.
“We’ve had visitors to the church as a direct result of those snow sculptures,” Wolfard says. “And people who hadn’t been to church for quite some time have come, too.”