Confessing, Serving, and Living the Crucified and Risen Christ

Symbolism of Our Church

Berea Lutheran Church is named for the congregation St. Paul founded in the small Greek village of Berea. His activity there is recorded briefly in Acts 17:10-15. The original congregation was noteworthy because its members studied the Scriptures to know if what Paul preached to them about Christ as Savior and Lord was true. That same attention to God's Word as the source and norm of all we believe and teach is both traditionally Lutheran and the present-day goal of our Berea Congregation.

The sweeping roofline of Berea Lutheran Church is the first impression received by whose approaching the building from either north or south on 107th Street. The graceful upward sweep suggests hands joined in an attitude of prayer and worship. The aluminum cross at the roof's pinnacle completes the announcement of the purpose and function of our building.

Dominating the facade of Berea Lutheran Church is a 16-foot stone statue of the Risen Christ. Made of sandstone and weighing about 4.75 tons, this statue was carved on the construction site by sculptor Adolph Roegner. Surrounding the upper half of the statue is colored slab-glass. The morning sun shines through the red, blue, green and gold tinted glass to bathe the interior of the church with the colors of creation. Berea's interior lights shine outward after dark to surround the illuminated Christ with a multi-colored aura and adorn his head with a splendid crown.

Entering the outer vestibule one sees the 1965 date stone of polished Arkansas granite. Above the stone are three large windows into which are etched with acid symbols for the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. The south window depicts the Father's creating hand. The center window reveals a fish, one of the oldest symbols of Christ. The Greek word for fish, Ichth us, is an ancient acronym - that is, its letters, I - x - 8 - u - ~, each represent another word: "Jesus Christ, God's Son, our Savior." The north window contains a symbol of the Holy Spirit - seven tongues of fire, representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit of Isaiah 11:2.

As we move into the narthex, we notice the imported Belgian rose-colored hammered glass in the bifold windows. The same glass is working into triangular designs for the doors of the worship area, reminding us again of the Holy Trinity.

Looking toward the chancel the eye is immediately drawn to the Corpus Christa imported from Bavaria, Germany. Although a depiction of Christ on the cross is somewhat unusual in a Lutheran Church (an empty cross is most often seen, announcing the risen Christ), the crucified Christ is an absolutely fitting proclamation that we entrust ourselves completely to Christ of the cross. The life-size linden wood carving, about 5 feet 9 inches in its slumped posture (or about 6 foot 1 inches if it were made to stand erect), weighs 160 pounds. The cross is hand chiseled oak.

Sweeping the eye across the chancel discovers a revealing three-point arrangement of worship furnishings. The Baptismal Font, the Altar and the Pulpit all are on the same plane emphasizing God's means of grace, the Word and Sacraments. Marble and redwood are used for all three focal points.

Above the Baptismal font is suspended an original brass sculpture of a dove, depicting the Holy Spirit. The piece is a work from the Buschell Studio of Port Washington, Wisconsin.

At the pulpit is the Sword of the God's Word - cutting through to where body and soul are joined together (Hebrews 4:12).

The altar is adorned with a Chi Rho. What looks to our eye as an "X" and a "P" superimposed upon one another is really an ancient abbreviation: the first two Greek letters (Chi and Rho) of the title, Christ. The marble altar is in the form of a table, reminding us of the Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Communion. Carved into its top are five crosses - one for each of Christ's wounds. Three candles are mounted on the back chancel wall to the left of the altar, and three candles to the right of the altar. Each group of lights represents the Holy Trinity.

The thin vertical windows above the altar are of colored slab glass. They remind us of the rainbow God put in the sky following the flood - a divine promise never again to destroy the world through water. Standing above the chancel, these windows speak of God's rich mercy that has made all things new again in Christ.

The rainbow introduces us also to several Ark-related symbols worked into the architectural shape of the building and property. The overall measurements of the church building compare to the dimensions of the Ark. It is about 45 feet high and the 75 feet wide; the length of the Ark is approximately the distance from the stop sign at the corner of our property at 107th and Stark to the ends of our property toward Hampton Avenue.

The side windows in the nave, where the worshipers sit, also are of colored slab glass -again in the colors of creation, red, blue, green and gold.

Although not a symbolic part of the building, the Schlicker pipe organ in the balcony is a special joy of the congregation. This wonderful instrument was designed for Berea Lutheran Church by Scott Riedel of Milwaukee, and manufactured and installed by The H.L. Schlicker Company of Buffalo, New York. It has two manuals with full pedal board, and is of seven registers and 38 stops. A dedication service for the organ was celebrated on October 23, 1994.

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