Paraments – Overview

Paraments Storage Rack


Paraments Usage Calendar


B.H.C.C. Parament Project 2015 – 2017

Individual contributions and roles:

• The Reverend Doctor Brian Snyder dreamed of BHCC having paraments having had none for 60 years! He guided, encouraged and supported the creation of five sets of paraments that define and highlight the ecclesiastical calendar according to the Presbyterian Book of Order. He was directly involved in the decision making regarding color choices, fabric selections and designating the religious symbols used. He also lent a favorite stole from which a pattern could be made for new stoles. • Joan Zakor, died January, 2016. She also dreamed of BHCC having sets of paraments to grace our sanctuary. She met with Sarah Cannon and gave her the inspiration to design and create the paraments. She also formed an Altar Guild under the auspices of the Worship and Music committee. • Sarah Cannon researched religious symbols, drew and painted a number of possible symbols in color and presented them to Dr. Snyder to choose from. She gathered fabric swatches and trim possibilities. Dr. Snyder made all of the final decisions regarding the fabric, trim and symbols used. Sarah created the communion table design in keeping with Dr. Snyder’s request that it have a “Medieval look”. The three shield shapes that front the communion table, mirror the three stained glass window shapes. After much searching through the Gloria Horn Studio, Sarah found an extremely talented, artistic, professional embroiderer, named Mimi Exler. Mimi used computer aided design software to create the finished embroidered copies of Sarah’s designs. Sarah created paper patterns for the pulpit, communion table, lectern and pastoral stoles. The butcher paper patterns were later traced onto “pattern paper” for multiple re-use. Patterns for the chapel communion table and lectern were also constructed for each set. • Jim Cannon was a key supporter of the project in multiple ways, behind the scenes. He offered advice, encouragement and physical help in hanging and storing each set as they changed following the ecclesiastical calendar. He installed the pulpit and lectern hardware. • Debbie Boisvert, like Sarah, is also an experienced seamstress. She partnered with Sarah in the construction of the first several sets of paraments. She contributed time, talent and ideas to improve the construction. • Tami Sampson and her mother, Tamika, of the Fabric Place, guided the fabric selections, the ordering of fabrics and trims in a timely and efficient manner, generously answered questions and provided solutions to problems. • Bill Andrews, when he was asked “who was a carpenter in BHCC’s congregation”, suggested Glenn Williams. • Glenn Williams, designed, constructed and installed a unique, graduated storage system for the parament sets using wood with copper rods. • The Reverend Dr. Frederick Leisure thoughtfully lent several books on religious symbolism from his personal library, contributing to Sarah’s research. He also lent several pastoral stoles as design examples. He has been an enthusiastic supporter throughout the process. • Nancy Andrews has generously and lovingly given of her time, extraordinary sewing experience, talent and commitment to the creation of the Christmas/Easter white set, the purple Lenten set and the red Pentecost set.

The Five Parament sets, the Ecclesiastical Calendar, and the symbolic Religious content of each.


I. Ordinary Time

When Displayed Displayed the most days in the ecclesiastical calendar year.

Motif “Tree of Life”

Color Green background Image is expressed in mandala form.

Symbolism The symbols in the tree of life represent the living waters, river of life (which incorporates earth, sun, and sky) and creation. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; this is my blood shed for thee”. The symbols of the mustard seed are in the outer rim. Three of the leaves have doves in them forming a triangle – The TRINITY; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Biblical References Matthew 26:25 John 15:5 Revelations 22:1 Mark 14:25 Matthew 17:20 Mark 1:10

Fabric 100% cotton


II. Advent

When Displayed The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

Color Blue with gold lettering

Symbolism Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. The coming of Christ into the world. Hope, Peace, Love, Joy 5th candle (white) Christ candle.

Lettering Alpha and Omega (superimposed), Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ and God in the Book of Revelation. This couple of letters are used as Christian symbols, and may be combined with the Cross, Chi-Rho or the other Christian symbols. As a Christian symbol, the Alpha and Omega represent the eternal nature of Jesus Christ. Revelations 22:13, Jesus says of himself, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”.

Fabric Dupioni Silk

Biblical References Revelations: 1:8 Revelations: 1:11 Revelations: 21:6 Revelations: 22:13


III. Christmas/Easter/Minor Church Holidays

When Displayed Christmas, Easter and Minor Church Holidays  (such as Trinity Sunday and Christ the King)

Color White with gold lettering.

Symbolism The CHI-RHO symbol (also known as chrismon) is one of the earliest forms of Christo gram formed by superimposing the first two capital letters (X and P) of the Greek XPIETOE “Christ” in such a way that the vertical stroke of the rho intersects the center of the chi (pronounced kee-roe), first Christian cross, adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name of Christ. “By this sign you shall conquer.” It is a monogram of Christ, an anagram.

Fabric Dupioni silk


IV. Lent

When Displayed Lenten paraments are displayed from Ash Wednesday up to, but not on, Maundy Thursday. The white paraments are in place on Easter Sunday

Color Deep purple

Symbolism Jerusalem Cross, a large four armed, four quadrant gold and lighter purple with smaller crosses placed in the spaces created by the central cross. They are outlined in white. The Jerusalem Cross is rich in symbolism and meaning and goes by many different names, including the Crusader’s Cross. This Jerusalem Cross represents Christ’s command to spread the Gospel around the world, a mission that started in Jerusalem. It was part of the coat of arms of the short-lived Jerusalem Kingdom (1099-1203 A.D.). It is a busy collection of five crosses and the most common interpretations are: A combination of the Old Testament teachings (the four Tau crosses) and the New Testament teachings (the four Greek crosses). The four evangelists, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, with Christ in the center. Christianity (central cross) broadcast by missionaries to the four corners of the world. Five crosses representing the five wounds of Jesus on the cross (small crosses for the hands and feet, and a large central cross for the spear wound in his side).

Fabric Dupioni silk


V. Pentecost

When Displayed This set is displayed on one Sunday fifty days after Easter. The red pastoral stole may also be worn during an ordination.

Color Red, multi-colored image embroidered in a mandala and rimmed with gold.

Symbolism The white dove symbolizes the Spirit of God, descending from the heavens with seven flames toward the Apostles. Acts of the Apostles 2:3, “A driving wind surrounded the apostles on that first Pentecost to strengthen them in their faith” The flames represent the breath of God. When we breathe, we inspire. God therefore, “inspired” the apostles, breathing life into the church. The flames or fire represent the strength and force of the Holy Spirit. The flames are also gifts of the Holy Spirit, which include: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety and fear.

Biblical References Mark 1:10 Jesus’ baptism…”the spirit, like a dove” Matthew 3:16 Jesus’ baptism…he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove to alight on him Luke 3:22 …during a general baptism, the dove and God’s voice John 1:32…John witnessed the dove coming to rest on Jesus Exodus 3:2 burning bush on Mt. Sinai from which God spoke to Moses Exodus 13:2…people led by a pillar of fire at night

Fabric Dupioni silk

Reference books used for researching religious symbols

Symbols of the Christian Faith by Alva William Steffler, 2002

Within the Chancel by Thomas R. Stafford, 1955

The Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha, 1989

Saints, Signs and Symbols: The symbols of Christian Art by Hilarie and James Cornwell

Worship without words: The signs and symbols of our faith by Patricia S. Klein

Our Christian Symbols by Friedrich Rest

How to read a Church by Richard Taylor



Paraments Usage Calendar SeasonColorDescription AdventBlueThe church year begins with Advent, when the color is blue—for the night skies over Bethlehem, and for waiting. It’s also traditionally the color of Mary. (Purple used to be used for both Advent and Lent, but in recent years it’s considered too penitential for Advent.) Christmas - EpiphanyWhiteAfter Advent, the color becomes white for Christmas. White is symbolic of purity and victory. It stays white through Epiphany. Ordinary Time - After EpiphanyGreenAfter Epiphany, the color goes green for a few weeks. Green is for “ordinary time,” and green represents growth and new life. LentPurpleLent comes in the early spring, and the paraments go purple—which is the color of royalty, suffering, and penitence. EasterWhiteAt Easter we return to the white of victory for the seven weeks of the Easter season. PentecostRedAt Pentecost, the color is red just for a single Sunday. Red symbolizes the flames of the Spirit. Ordinary Time - After PentecostGreenAfter Pentecost Sunday, we return to the green of ordinary time and stay there through the summer and fall until Advent rolls back around. Minor Church Holidays WhiteThere are a few brief occasions—minor church holidays like Trinity Sunday and Christ the King—when the color is supposed to be switched to white just for a day, but we may or may not observe that rule. Minister OrdinationsRedWhen a minister is ordained in our church; it is used for ordinations.

Bower Hill Community Church

70 Moffet Street

Mt. Lebanon, PA 15243

Phone: 412-561-4114

Email: Office@bhccml.com