Cross stolen from Mercer Island church is more than just a symbol

— image credit:

When I hear about a family losing their home to a fire, my heart goes out to them. Even though they all made it out OK, and we know that’s the most important thing, they have lost all their belongings, and that must be hard! It’s not necessarily the expensive stuff or even the practical necessities, but the items of emotional value, mostly irreplaceable, such as family photographs and gifts from loved ones who have long since died. The loss of these belongings would hurt the most. What would you miss most?

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, my workplace for the last five years, has suffered such a loss. No, there wasn’t a fire, flood or explosion. Life — and worship — will go on, but someone took objects that are important to us: meaningful symbols in our Sunday services. During the week between Sunday, July 27, and the early morning of Aug. 3, an intruder took our processional cross, as well as the pastor’s own vestment (“albs”) and two stoles, out of our worship space. Pastors usually dress in these garments during worship or rites such as weddings, funerals or baptisms, and these garments are visible symbols of the office and its authority. The processional cross (top part pictured at right) is about seven feet tall and is normally carried forward through the sanctuary at the beginning of worship. It is placed in a wooden stand at the front of the church, next to the pulpit. This particular cross was custom-made for Holy Trinity in 2002. It was a special gift from the late Herman Kelsch, a very active congregation member, in memory of his beloved wife, Gerry. It is of great emotional significance to many congregation members, and we are still hoping that it may be returned to the church.

A lot of thought and work went into the making of the cross, a true labor of love. A very dedicated and talented church member had been asked to make sketches of a wood and metal cross with a “wheat-motif” before settling on the chosen design. She wrote, “The inspiration for the cross began with singing the hymn, ‘As the grains of wheat…’; remembering the wheat fields that were first American homes to many of our Scandinavian ancestors; and the Bread of Life, a term for communion.”

The final product was the collaborative effort of five different artists. Laura Yeats, a professional woodworker and head of the team, matched the existing sanctuary wood color, and two metal artists created the delicate brass inlay. The center medallion was laser cut by a third metal artist and the circular accents on the staff turned on the lathe by another woodworker. The cross was dedicated to the church on Feb. 16, 2003, and has occupied its space in the church sanctuary ever since — until last Sunday.

As I have become very attached to this community of faith and its giving, good people, this loss affects me, too, mostly because I have a hard time understanding why someone would do such a thing. If it was some kind of prank or dare, it’s not too late to return the items — no questions asked! You can contact the church office at (206) 232-3270, or leave us a note. We would be so grateful! If anyone has seen or heard anything that could help us recover the cross and the vestments, please let us know.

Kirsten Olshausen is the secretary at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates