Torch Tells the Story of an Alberta Church

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When River Park Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta, celebrated its 60th anniversary, Herm Stolte was asked to design and make a torch that would reflect the church’s identity.

The symbolic torch created by Herm Stolte.

The resulting creation uses 19 different species of wood symbolizing the congregation’s roots, regional identity, some of its fundamental beliefs, and the diversity of nations represented by current members.

Organized by Dutch immigrants, the church started out as First CRC in the 1950s. “The base of the torch, with its four carved wooden shoes, is a nod toward those Dutch founders and is made solely of European Beech,” Stolte pointed out. Tongue-in-cheek, he added, “Beech is a good utilitarian material. It’s strong, hard, sometimes difficult to work with, and somewhat prone to warping.” The torch can be detached and passed without its base, demonstrating, said Stolte, “that while the church remembers and appreciates its Dutch heritage, this does not necessarily define what River Park is today.”

Stolte designed the overall shape of the torch to reflect the Calgary Tower, a well-known downtown landmark. The torch contains Lodgepole Pine, Alberta’s provincial tree, and Birds-eye maple, representing Canada’s national tree.

Crosses made of Bloodwood inlaid in the upper section of the torch are symbols of Christ’s sacrificial death. The Holy Spirit is represented by the flames on the top of the torch.

The 15 flames denote the 15 people groups that constitute River Park’s current membership; each flame is made from a species of wood specific to that part of the world.

“In the end,” said Stolte, “this riot of diversity illustrates that the church of Christ is far bigger than any one group, and life is richer when many nations worship together.”

If you look closely, Stolte said, “you can find flaws. That too reflects River Park Church as long as we live on this side of heaven’s gates.”

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