In Spring 2007, the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII), New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts (ECVA), and the Museum of Biblical Art invited artists to illustrate “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17), the scriptural theme of the 2008 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Jurors Thomas W. Lollar, director of visual arts at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Dr. Ena Heller, founder and executive director of the Museum of Biblical Art selected the piece they thought best represented the theme.
Onward in Prayer by John Mittelstadt of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, was named the winner of the competition and his image appears on posters, prayer cards and other resources developed by GEII for use during the 2008 observance of the Week of Prayer.
Mittelstadt is a member of CIVA. He has worked with Christian themes since the 1980s and has self-published a book of his art and poetry. He attended The Art Center College of Design in Pasdena, CA and has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from Wayne State University.