First Congregational United Church of Christ
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Salem, Oregon

History of Our Triptych

The triptych that adorns our chancel from Easter Sunday until the start of Advent was dedicated to the late Sue Cox (daughter of the late Ken and Edna Hewit, and sister of Melody Ruth) on September 28, 2003. It was designed by Reverend Stephen Haddan, our Associate Pastor at that time. It was crafted by Priscilla Strayer. Elements in the triptych were created by Marjorie Covey, Donna Straus, Melody Ruth, Louise Putman, and others.
Excerpt from Rev. Stephen Haddan's sermon delivered 09-28-2003:
"The three banners are about our community's walk with God. The background pattern and sense of color was inspired by our simple, yet beautiful stained glass windows. There is a sense of randomness, a sense of busyness, reminding us how complex life really is. And how, even in the midst of chaos, a sense of structure or order comes of it. The symbols in the banners reflect the life of our church:
The dove is a symbol of Peace, a symbol of the Spirit given to all. From this sense of peace, the Spirit flows a rainbow, reminding us all life is to be shared by all people. No group is to be set aside, barriers are to come down; life, especially the church, is to be open and affirming of all.
The river of live, which starts up and over the cup, waters all of creation: the grape and grain are watered. The fish are sustained. There is life. Water baptizes us all with the goodness of God, the grace and mercy of God, with the love of God.
The grape and the grain, the wheat, are about sustaining life, nourishing life. Grain and grape-- our life's work to be shared. it shows how breaking bread and sharing wine include radical hospitality and radical live, open communion for all.
The cup of blessing pouring out its transforming message is a call to choose life, to give thanks for the blessings of life. This banner is about the miracle of life, how community can turn water into wine, and how a community can take the loaves and the fish and feed the multitudes. It is about sharing. 
There is a heart to remind us of the radical love which the great commandment calls us all to live out. There are rays of sunshine as well as flames of life. There's the morning star offering guidance and protection. There's the cross. It reminds us of the cost of hard work. It demonstrates the risk of doing what is needed out of love to bring about the reign of God. It is about the life and teachings of Jesus, and what it truly means to follow his ways. 
And there's the Tree of Life which is grounded by roots running deep, surrounding the cross with new life. The tree has motion; it has texture. There is light; there is hope; there is transformation that puts together the pieces of our lives in a new way resurrection. The tree loses leaves and gives life to new leaves, the ongoing, death-defying cycle of life continues." 
The triptych can be admired in our church from Easter Sunday until the beginning of Advent.