Cape Girardeau woman spent six months working on banner to mark First Presbyterian Church's 175th anniversary

Sunday, December 26, 2010
Barbara Calvin is the force behind the commemorative banners that are displayed at First Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

For more than six months, Alice Kabo spent about five hours a day working on a special project to commemorate the 175th anniversary of First Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau.

With help from church members Sandy Wilhelm, Erica McBride and Ann Ritter, Kabo stitched the most recent of four intricately designed needlepoint banners bearing symbols and colors that represent the church's values. The three other banners -- the first made in 1935 to celebrate 100 years, and the second and third completed in 1985 to commemorate the church's 150th anniversary -- are treasured church heirlooms.

Kabo said she never would have approached a project this big for herself, but she did it for the church.

Banner designer and church member Barbara Calvin said designing and putting together the most recent banner was a wonderful process for those involved. Experiences aside, she said the most important aspect of the banners is what they symbolize.

Each of the three banners before the one created in 2010 had the date of the church anniversary as a focal point. This time, the banner committee decided to stitch the date at the bottom of the banner and use the Greek symbol for Jesus Christ.

"By doing this, we thought it would be more enduring," Calvin said.

Calvin said all the other banners have symbolism panels which carry the church liturgy, and representation with color is always an important part of the design.

For the 175th anniversary needlepoint, they chose blue as a background color to represent truth, constancy, wisdom and faithfulness. They used gold in the scroll work to represent splendor, kingliness and a celebration of life in the church.

A recurring theme using plants and colors that represent the seasons of the church year is present on each of the commemorative panels of all the banners, including the newest addition.

The 2010 banner has a purple panel featuring a vine, which according to a church pamphlet was a symbol Jesus Christ gave to his believers to explain the relationship between him, his followers and God. A red panel on the banner contains a lily, meant to signify life coming from death and the good news of the resurrection.

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