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The Nicene Creed (4th Century)

Nicene Creed banner

THE CROSS WHICH IS ALSO A SWORD: A symbol for the Emperor Constantine and his successors because he called the ecumenical council which began the process of thinking which resulted in this creed; because he was the first Christian emperor and because he began the tradition of imperial Christianity. The cross is central here because the doctrine of Christ is central in the Creed.

THE BLUE TRIANGLE AND THE THREE SYMBOLS WITH IT: The doctrine of the Trinity formalized in the Nicene Creed.


THE CHI RHO MONOGRAM: Christ - the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, used by Constantine on shields and helmets of his Army.

THE DOVE: The Holy Spirit.

THE CROWNS: The rule and glory of GOD.

The Apostles' Creed

Apostle's Creed banner
THE SOMBER BROWN COLOR: The difficulty and rigor of early Christianity under persecution; also the monastic tradition.
THE PURPLE ARCHES: The entrances to caves or catacombs, where early Christians met in secret; also the shape of Gothic church windows.
THE ANCHOR CROSS: Security in Christ, as found by the apostles, some of whom were fishermen.
THE FISH: An ancient symbol for the Christian faith, perhaps a secret code mark. Letters of the Greek word for fish can be used as the first letters in the phrase "Jesus Christ God's Son Savior."
THE CHALICE: The Lord's Supper, and thus the earnest and simple fellowship of the early church.
THE UPSIDE-DOWN CROSS: Peter, chief of the apostles, who, in legend, is said to have been crucified upside-down because he thought himself unworthy of a death like his Master's.

The Scots Confession (Scotland, 1560)

Scots Confession banner
THE BLUE OF THE SHIELD: The background color of the Church of Scotland.
THE TARTAN, X-Shaped CROSS: A form called St Andrew's Cross, he being the apostle who brought the gospel to Scotland. The Tartan, or plaid, is that of the Hamilton clan in honor of the first martyr of the Scottish Reformation, Patrick Hamilton.
THE CELTIC CROSS: Another ancient form associated with Christians of the British Isles.
THE SHIP: A symbol for the Church; the Confession contains a remarkable, strong doctrine of the Church.
THE BIBLE AND THE SWORD: Paul called the word of God "The sword of the Spirit," and the sharpness of John Knox's preaching of the Word was a major power for reformation in Scotland.
THE BURNING BUSH WHICH IS NOT CONSUMED: Reminding us of Moses' Sinai experience, thus a symbol of God's presence and call: the chief symbol of the Church of Scotland.

The Heidelberg Catechism (Germany, 1563)

Heidelberg Catechism banner
THE REGAL RED AND GOLD: A tribute to the rule of Frederick III who ordered the writing of the Catechism for followers of John Calvin in Germany.
THE CROWN OF THORNS, THE "GERMAN" CROSS AND THE TABLETS: Symbols of Misery, Redemption and Thankfulness-the three basic themes of the Catechism. (The tablets stand for the Ten Commandments, which appear in the Catechism where it teaches that obedience is the proper form of thankfulness.)
THE TWO LIGHTS AND THE FIRE: The Trinity-with the Hebrew name of God on the left orb, the Greek monogram for Jesus on the right orb, and the flame standing for the Holy Spirit. There is a long discussion of the Trinity in the Catechism.

The Second Helvetic Confession
(Switzerland, 1566)

Second Helvetic Confession banner
THE BLUE AND WHITE: Heraldic colors of ancient Switzerland.
THE CROSS: Again dominant on this banner because of the extensive discussion of salvation in the Confession.
THE HAND AND THE BURNING HEART: A traditional symbol for John Calvin, father of Presbyterianism in its Swiss homeland.
THE LAMP: Knowledge and disipline, two of the themes of the Helvetic which make it unique.
THE SHEPHERD'S CROOK AND THE PASTURE: The pastoral ministry and the flock's care for its own members.
THE CHALICE AND THE WAVES: Holy Communion and Baptism.

The Westminster Confession and the Shorter Catechism (England, 1646)

Westminster Confession banner
THE EYE: God's providence and control of all life and history-a dominant theme of Westminster.
THE CROWN: God's rule.
THE OPEN BIBLE: The authority of the written Word, basic to this Confession's teachings.
THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA: The A and Z of the Greek alphabet, the first and last-referring to Christ and His death for us as central to our faith.

The Theological Declaration of Barmen (Germany, 1934)

Barmen banner
THE SWASTIKA CROSSED OUT AND THE CROSS RISING: A protest and witness against Nazi tyranny and any effort to take the role of God and control of the church.
THE FIRE: The suffering and death which follows from defense of the faith against tyranny, as for some of the Barinen signers. But the cross survives such persecution and the crisis of war, rising out of the flames.

The Confession of 1967 (United States of America)

Confession of 1967 banner
THE BLUE, THE RED AND THE GOLD: Colors of the official seal of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.
THE CROWN (REPEATED FROM THE WESTMINSTER BANNER) AND THE NAIL-SCARRED HAND: The death and victory of Christ as he reconciles the world.
THE FOUR HANDS OF DIFFERENT COLORS, THE CLASPED HANDS AND THE GREEN CIRCLE: The reconciled world at the foot of the cross - God's act of reconciliation being the starting point and theme of the Confession of 1967.
THE STARS AND PLANETS ON THE BLUE BACKGROUND: The Space-Age setting of this Confession.

A Brief Statement of Faith

Statement of Faith banner
This confessional statement, officially adopted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1991, after the reunion of Presbyterians, North and South, eight years earlier, uses biblical female as well as male metphors for God. It acknowledges that to misuse the environment is to sin. It calls Christians to work for worldwide justice, freedom and peace. And it states clearly that God calls both "women and men to all ministries of the Church."

The Banner for a Brief Statement of Faith hangs directly above the pulpit. It was designed and completed in 1998 by Dale Hadden, an elder in our congregation.

THE DOMINANT TRIANGLE: It represents the Trinity; for A Brief Statement of Faith's three main statements begiln with "We trust in the Holy Spirit ..." This is the only PC(USA) confession that dwells on Jesus' earthly ministry.

THE LOAF AND FISHES: These remind us of his teaching, preaching, and working of miracles.

THE CHALICE: It represents Holy Communion, which Jesus gave to the Church.

THE SCALES OF JUSTICE: Stand for the gospel of liberation that he brought to the poor and oppressed.

THE CROSS IN THE SCALE: Reminds us of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection to reconcile and redeem the world. At the top of the Triangle the Flames and the Dove represent the Holy Spirit.

THE CENTRAL FIGURE: In this banner is the symbol for the Creator - God. God's hands that hold the world are both male and female.

First Presbyterian Church - Oak Ridge

FPC Oak Ridge banner
The colors on the banner are the colors of the old UPC, northern church.
The cross is central, because it is central to the church.
The center blue river is the presence of the water of life, which flows from the Holy spirit.
The scales of justice signify that social justice has always been an important witness of this church to the world.
The dove in the upper left represents the Holy Spirit. Its position implies that justice flows from the Holy Spirit by the river of life.
The book in the upper right is, of course, the Bible, but it is also a book because this is a congregetion which values education.
The symbol in the lower left is that of Oak Ridge, there to symbolize our presence in our community. (The atomic acorn seems to have been phased out as the symbol of Oak Ridge.)

Belhar Banner

Click to enlarge Belhar banner

Our original design ideas for the Belhar banner were inspired by an image on a poster about the Belhar Confession. Since the confession is from South Africa, we used African fabrics that we already owned and added a collection of batik-inspired cottons. The colors of red, blue, yellow, green, and black on the banner depict the colors of the South African flag. The Belhar Confession focuses on unity in the church, reconciliation between Christians, and justice in the world. Our visual image for those themes is depicted in people of various sizes that appear as outlines. We see them as the “hands around the world.” When you look from the upper left to the bottom right, you will see stitching that represents God’s light beaming down. The light highlights people in brightly colored clothing. We added colorful beads made by Teresa Brittain to enhance the sense of light. The people appear as individuals in twos and threes along the bottom rows. By the time you reach the top row, the people are all raising their joined hands in joyful unity.

The prayer shawl group is excited and honored to add this newest banner to the collection of the banners that depict our Presbyterian creeds and confessions.

— Mimi Tilley, Prayer Shawl Group

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