Karen Lee Crenshaw took the rough design and Shirley Hutchins and put it into proportion. Millie Lee made the appliqué work and sewed all the red beads. Lloyd Lee helped square the banner and made the portable stand. Millie (right) and Shirley (left) put the backing on the banner to make it ready to hang. Shirley did the background sewing and placing of all the pieces, as well as shopping for the material and taking artistic license with the completed design.
The very fabric of this banner was pieced and sewn together with scripture, as well as the many gifts of God, given to us in this wonderful state of West Virginia. The design of the banner reflects the abundant West Virginia hills, mountains, valleys and water. Though only one Bible verse is evident on the banner, many Bible verses are tucked and gathered throughout the symbols and scenery. Across each mountain peak, Psalm 121 is stitched, “I will lift my eyes to the hills“; as well as the words of the Psalmist from Psalm 8, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.” We are reminded of the majesty and greatness of God’s creativity when we look down from mountain tops into deep valleys and majestic gorges which are forged over the entire state. During Advent, we are reminded that the valleys shall be raised up and every mountain and hill made low, in preparation for the coming of the Lord. (Isaiah 40:3-5) Water is needed for our physical well being, as well as our spiritual life. Water flows and meanders throughout our state. We are dependent upon water for living, as well as for work and recreation. The river on the banner has Amos 5:24 embroidered on it. “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-ending stream.” As water runs through our state, we are also reminded of the many stories in scripture containing water: the separation of the water (Genesis 1:6), Moses being pulled from the water (Exodus 2:1-100), the waters of the Red Sea parting for the children of Israel (Exodus 14), the water from the rock in the desert (Exodus 17:1-7), the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22) and of course, the living water Jesus offered the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). The white church on the banner represents the 149 churches in the Presbytery of West Virginia, most of which are small churches with less than 100 members. This particular church is designed after the Kesler Church on Sunday Road, near Fayetteville. The very foundation of this church, as well as all our other churches, is built on the following words, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1), or these words, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6b). As always, the church is a visible sign and symbol of God’s reign in the world. The steam train represents the past and present history of West Virginia. We are reminded of the steam trains that run from Huntington to Parkersburg, across the southern part of West Virginia, and most certainly, the Cass Railroad. The “red” portion of the banner can either be Cranberry Glades or Dolly Sods. Both areas show us the creativity and glory of God, as the seasons change. The mill at Babcock State Park is on the banner for a personal reason. On the first trip to Kenya, as the Global Partnership was being established, the group from West Virginia went to visit Erastus Muteru in his home. Hanging high above a doorway in his house was a lovely picture mural of the grist mill at Babcock, sent to Erastus by his son in the United States. Erastus had never been to the states, let alone seen the grist mill. For me, the grist mill became an international symbol of love, friendship, and nourishment. The mill reminds us that “We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, etc.); as well as the words of Mary from the Magnificat, “He has filled the hungry with good things…” (Luke 1:53). We can also remember the generosity of the young boy who gave his 5 loaves and 2 fish , that people would not go hungry. (Matthew 14:13-21, John 6:1-13). The flowers are trillium, white three-petaled flowers which could be looked at as another symbol of the triune God – creator, redeemer, sustainer. The dogwood tree certainly has many legends regarding Christ. One legend in particular says that the center blossom of the bloom represents the crown Christ wore at his crucifixion, and the four petals are “pierced” petals, to symbolize the nails and spear which pierced Jesus as he hung on the cross. The New River Gorge Bridge, the steam train, and the grist mill also represent the gifts of creativity that God has given to humanity, in order for us to reach out and help others. The brown path, which is really a country road from John Denver’s song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (one of our state songs), also reminds us that God’s word is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our paths. (Psalm 119:105).
The banner was not designed as an end unto itself. It was made to push us to think about the world around us so that we might see the work of God as we move in God’s world. We are also reminded that we are called by God to serve others in the name of Christ, as we look at the banner. Each symbol, hopefully, leads us from one level to yet a higher level as we give thanks and praise to God for all God has done and will do for us. Rejoice! Celebrate the excellent name of God throughout all the earth!