Meaning of the Coat of Arms


I'm frequently asked the meaning behind the various symbols on our church's coat of arms. The following explanation is presented here in the hope that it will sufficiently explain all the symbols used.

The basic background is a shield, as is traditional in heraldry.

The red cross stands for Christ's crucifixion, a cross, because crucifixion by definition is being nailed to a cross, and red to symbolize Christ's atoning blood. Red is also traditionally the color of martyred saints. Overlaid on this is another cross, to emphasize the importance of the Crucifixion. This smaller cross is blue, the traditional color of truth, and also representative of heavenly love. Also overlaid and spaced about the red cross are blue "fleur-de-lis", which are stylized Easter lilies, the traditional heraldic symbol for service, and used here to be symbolic of the Resurrection. So just in that part of the coat of arms alone you have the cross, Christ's blood, His resurrection, His truth, and His love.

The red cross divides the shield into four parts. In the upper left part of the shield is a graphic of three nails overlaying a circle. The three nails most obviously stand for Christ's crucifixion, as they represent the nails used to hold Him to the cross, and the agony He suffered on our behalf. They also represent the Holy Trinity. The nails overlay a circle, which can represent God's undying love for us, but can also represent the completeness of God's plan for our salvation, and also the Holy Trinity. The circle is universally accepted as the symbol of eternity and never-ending existence, "Who was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be". If you look closely you'll see the nails and circle of this graphic are tinged slightly with green, the color of spring, symbolizing the triumph of life over death.

The upper right of the shield holds the original seal of our church. Rapidly disappearing from the church site, it lives on in our coat of arms. The prominent feature of the original seal is a red cross superimposed over a globe, the significance of which should require no explanation.

In the lower right hand portion of the shield is a stylized Knight, used to represent the full armor of the Lord, our call to service in His ministry, as well as honor and integrity. Armor is the traditional symbol of chivalry. Biblically, the armor of the Christian is described in Ephesians as "...the breastplate of righteousness ... the shield of faith ... the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The sword yielded by the knight also reminds us of the martyrs of our faith, as the sword is the traditional symbol of martyrdom. Some have suggested the knight also represents our calling as defenders of the faith. That's okay, too.

Finally, the lower left part of the shield, and the part I think is what visitors are most curious about, contains the XP symbol. The XP symbol is an accepted monogram for Christ. X and P of the Greek alphabet are the first two letters ("Chi" and "Rho") of Christos, the Greek word for Christ or Messiah. The combination of the two letters readily gives the form of a cross. As "Rho" resembles "P" and "Chi" is similar to "X", the monogram can also be read as the Latin word "pax", meaning peace. So you see, it is an entirely appropriate symbol for our coat-of-arms. It's repeated twice for a number of reasons. One, since it's an accepted monogram for Jesus Christ, I figured why not have it twice? I also included it twice so that both of the two predominate colors of the shield, blue and red, could be represented (guess you could say that's an aesthetic reason). My other reason for repeating it twice in different colors was to represent the inclusiveness of our church. While it may sound silly, I was trying to convey our church's belief in ordaining both men and women, which not every church believes in. There should be no significance placed on one being placed vertically higher on the shield than the other - again, that's simply a design choice, with no hidden or additional meaning.

I hope this answers any questions regarding our church's coat of arms. As you can see, our coat of arms is very rich in symbolism, and for those who know the meaning of the colors and the symbols they serve to remind us graphically of Our Lord Jesus Christ and our faith in His Salvation. One final note - the design is copyright protected, and not to be used without permission. I have created several graphics incorporating our coat of arms for use by our members, ministers, and alumni with full permission. You'll find them on our Buttons for Members, Clergy, and Alumni page. Thank you, and God bless.



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Copyright 2001-2007, Rev. David M. Ford, Ph.D.
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