We were humbled to be commissioned to create the stoles for the co-moderators of the Presbyterian Church USA 222nd General Assembly. The design of this stole grew out of references to the host city of Portland and the GA theme “The Hope in Our Calling” (Ephesians 1:18.) After researching the host city and the theme scripture the process started with a sketch that was tweaked after obtaining the client's input. The first thing on the stole was thePCUSA seal. Starting here gives the stole life and allows us to best visually balance the imagery around it. Next we audition paper patterns of the symbols to make sure the scale is correct. Finally fabrics get chosen and then sewn onto the base fabric.
Elements of the symbolism on these stoles include:
Anchor cross - a traditional symbol for hope.
Sun - an artistic reference to “the son” used because our faith manifested through the son (Jesus Christ) allows us to have hope.
Mt. Hood - a Portland landmark. Perhaps the sight of this mountain will remind others of Mount Sinai where we learned of the importance of obedience in our relationship with God.
Portland skyline - to recall the 222nd GA location.
Fremont Bridge - Portland is known as the “City of Bridges.” The bridges make an impact on the landscape and allow for easy passage across the rivers. On this stole the bridge also symbolizes the bridging and coming together of the many ministries within Portland and in the greater PCUSA.
A river - Portland is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. A river is symbolic to us as Christians as it speaks to Baptism. When we see the river may we remember the covenant made at our Baptism which has led us to the “hope in our calling.”
The earth -the place where we currently are rooted. It is the world we are called to live and work in. The earth is also a symbol of creation care and environmental issues which are infamous in Portland.
The rose - “City of Roses” is one of the nicknames for Portland because of the rose festival and rose test garden. The rose on this stole is shown in growth stages to represent “growing hope.” It is also interesting to note that the rose was an early Christian symbol found in Roman catacombs where it denoted paradise.
It was wonderful to be able to take on the challenge of such a story all on one stole! We pray that our work is a wonderful visual tool for the co-moderators as they continue their ministry the next 104 weeks!