Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church

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A Brief History of Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church

by Elder Maud Lyon



Detroit was founded as a French Catholic settlement in 1701. For its first hundred years, it remained a small settlement, served by Ste. Anne's Catholic Church. Presbyterianism came to Detroit with American settlement at the beginning of the nineteenth century. From 1800 to 1850, the largest population growth in Detroit came from Scottish and English immigrants, or persons of this ethnicity whose families had lived in New England, New York, or Canada for generations. They founded the businesses that fueled the growth of Detroit, established hospitals, schools, and civic institutions, and created many Presbyterian and other Protestant Churches. The history of the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church reflects this dynamic growth and change in Detroit in the nineteenth century.

The first Protestant religious group in Detroit was founded in 1817 by Dr. John Monteith, who had come to Detroit a year earlier. The population of the village was less than 1,000. In the ensuing thirty-four years several Protestant denominations created churches of their own, including Scotch Presbyterian, Congregationalists, and Episcopalians. By 1851 Detroit's population exceeded 21,000, and the membership of First Presbyterian (Detroit's only Presbyterian church) strained the capacity of its facilities. The congregation of the First Presbyterian Church began to discuss a proposal to divide, in order to serve three locations in the growing city. One church was to be located in central Detroit (First Presbyterian), another on the west side (Fort Street Presbyterian), and the third on the east side (Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian). On February 24, 1853, a formal resolution was adopted to divide the assets of the original church into three parts. The assets of the original church were divided 3-3-4, with 30% each to Jefferson Avenue and Fort Street, and 40% to First Presbyterian.

Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church was formally organized with 46 members on February 8, 1854. The first Sunday School services were held in the old Detroit Institute, a school building on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, between Beaubien and St. Antoine Streets. In October, the new church moved its services to the old Congregational Church on Jefferson Avenue, with the Rev. Joshua Cook serving as pastor. In the spring of 1855 the Rev. Hugh McElroy took charge, and by December 9, 1855, a new brick church was dedicated. It stood on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, between Russell and Rivard Streets.




The congregation of Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church reflected the growing industrial success of Detroit. An newspaper article in April, 1889 reported the business positions of over forty-five JAPC members, including a United States Senator, several bank presidents, the owner of the Free Press, manufacturers, managers and superintendents in railroads, shipping, and other industries, retail merchants, the county auditor, a butcher, and several doctors and lawyers. Several JAPC members founded key businesses that provided jobs and wealth to the growing city. Thomas Berry and his brother Joseph Berry opened their varnish business in 1858, which became an international company and a major employer. Dr. George Russel founded the Detroit Car and Manufacturing Company in 1853, manufacturing railroad cars. In 1865 prominent JAPC elders James McMillan and John S. Newberry founded another railroad manufacturing powerhouse, the Michigan Car Company, which became one of the largest employers of Detroit in the late nineteenth century. The two companies, Detroit Car and Manufacturing and the Michigan Car Company, merged in 1892. W. K. Muir was president of the Eureka Iron Works in Wyandotte, involved in the shipbuilding industry. I

In addition to these famous names, the JAPC congregation included men and women from all walks of life, both established families and new arrivals. JAPC offered religious services and instruction, as well as a wide range of services and opportunities for community activities. JAPC had classes for Italian men, English study classes for French and German immigrants, classes in millinery and dressmaking for young girls and women, and men's gymnasium classes and boy's athletic clubs. Social groups included a young people's society with weekly meetings and the Progress Club, which promoted social interactions among young men. The church also supported a pastor's aid society.

From its dedication on Dec. 10, 1855 until the building of the present church in 1926, Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church was located on the north side of Jefferson Avenue between Russell and Rivard. The first church, a Gothic structure, was built near the corner of Jefferson and Rivard. The Newberry Tower was added to JAPC in 1877 by the widow of John S. Newberry, in his memory. Nine years later, in 1886, Mrs. Newberry and her children supported the erection of a chapel in the rear of the church, on the corner of Larned and Rivard Streets. It was completed in 1889. Two years later in 1891, the old Gothic sanctuary was torn down and a new structure was built upon its site, which was an inside plot, rather than a street corner. The new church was simple, without elaborate decoration, with the interior a warm yellow color. The outside dimensions of the building were 87 x 127 feet, one of the largest church buildings in Detroit at the time. Including the gallery, it could seat 1,250 people. It was dedicated on December 11, 1892.



In 1855, the Rev. Hugh Sneed McElroy was the first pastor, who unfortunately died of typhoid fever two and a half years later. The Rev. William Hogarth became pastor in 1858, serving until 1873. The years that followed were marked by rapid changes in pastoral leadership — seven pastors in eighteen years. The church regained its stability in 1891 with the appointment of the Rev. Wellington W. Carson.

In 1896, the Rev. Dr. Alfred Barr became the pastor. During his fifteen-year ministry, JAPC celebrated its Golden Jubilee, the 50thanniversary in 1904. At the Golden Jubilee Celebration, Mr. Henry Russel, an elder, read a paper entitled "The First Half Century of Our Church's History," and Miss Helen Keep wrote an article for the local newspapers.




Just as the First Presbyterian Church had started and provided initial funding for JAPC, so the new Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian congregation supported spreading of the faith on Detroit's east side. Instead of investing in a larger, grander building for JAPC, the congregation supported the establishment of a number of missions. Various sources credit the JAPC for founding the Church of the Covenant, the Third Avenue Presbyterian Church, Cooper's Memorial, Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, a church in Newberry in Northern Michigan, and the Hamtramck Presbyterian Church. Two of the missions established during the ministry of the Rev. William Hogarth led to the formation of new Presbyterian congregations: Covenant (1862) and Bethany (1863).

Bethany began as a church school mission in a ward of the Marine Hospital at Jefferson and Mt. Elliott in 1863. In 1870, a modest mission house was built and in 1883 a church was organized. It was first called the Hamtramck Union Mission (at that time, the area known as Hamtramck extended south to Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River). The Hamtramck Union Mission was located on Grand Boulevard near the Belle Isle Bridge, in a building owned by the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church. By 1883 it had its own pastor, Dr. Bartholomew, and became a church in its own right, the Hamtramck Presbyterian Church, in October of that year. The following year the JAPC trustees gave the new church the deed to the property. The name was changed to Bethany Presbyterian in 1892. A year later, land was purchased for a larger church on Champlain Street (now Lafayette) and Seyburn Avenue, further out on the eastern edge of the growing city of Detroit. It opened in 1896.




As the population of Detroit grew, the residences of church members migrated east. City boundaries expanded past Grand Boulevard in 1885. By 1900 the population of Detroit reached 285,704, more than thirteen times the population of the city when JAPC was founded. The development of the automobile industry after 1900 accelerated both outward settlement and population growth. By 1910 Detroit's population was 465,766; by 1920, 993,078. From 1895 to 1910 large mansions and other houses were being built in a new subdivision further east of East Grand Boulevard, called Indian Village, where many JAPC members lived, including John Newberry, James McMillan, George Russel, and Howard Muir. All of these men moved their families further east to Grosse Pointe in subsequent years.

As a result of these changes, the congregation of JAPC (and the two other original Presbyterian churches in the central city) began to dwindle, as their neighborhoods changed from residential to a mix of commercial and industrial uses. At the same time, the churches that had been formed as satellites of JAPC flourished. By 1918 official JAPC rolls included several hundred members, but only 150 were deemed reliable. By 1918, Bethany, located several miles further east, had an active and young membership of nearly 1,000. About that time Dr. Samuel Forrer, pastor of JAPC, and Dr. Clinton W. Lowrie, pastor of Bethany, began to discuss the possibility of merging the two churches and erecting a new, larger church building to better serve both congregations. Negotiations ensued for several years. On May 12, 1924, a new governance structure with representatives from both churches was approved. On October 5, 1924, all members of the Bethany and Jefferson Avenue congregations enrolled as Charter Members of the new Jefferson Avenue Church. On November 17, the Detroit Presbytery formally approved the merger. Construction for a new church building, located in Indian Village had already begun.



The new church at East Jefferson and Burns was constructed over four years at a total cost of more than $1,250,000. The first service was held on Palm Sunday, 1926 for the workmen who built the church and their families. The new church was dedicated on Easter, March 28, 1926. The church held a special Dedication Week beginning Sunday, May 2, 1926. The church has two distinct parts, a Sanctuary (seating 850 people) and the Dodge Parish House (built in part with a donation by Mrs. Horace E. Dodge in memory of her husband, who had died in 1920). Honoring the long leadership of deceased member John S. Newberry and his wife Helen, a bronze tablet dedicated the new tower to their memory. In keeping with the active social programs of the newly merged churches, the Parish House included a gymnasium and kitchen on the basement level, several meeting rooms and church offices on the ground floor, and classrooms and the Pastor's office on the second floor.

The new church building was designed in the American Gothic Style by Architect Wirt C. Rowland of the Detroit firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls. The Sanctuary is 125 ft. long, 54 ft. wide, 90 ft. high and seats 850 people. The architect's contract specified the use of concrete, reinforced steel, gray granite with a bush-hammered finish, and limestone for the structure and walls. The chancel ceiling is first growth chestnut, while the Narthex in the West Entry has plaster ceilings boxed with false beams of white oak. The wainscot in the gymnasium is red oak. Materials from the church came from around the world. The granite for the walls came from New England, Silesian marble from Italy, fluted gutters of Colorado copper, lead and zinc from South America, furnishings from Chicago, the organ from Boston and leaded glass windows from Philadelphia.

The 23-bell carillon was installed in 1926. The English bells, from the Gillet & Johnston foundry, have a total weight of 12,096 pounds and are played from a keyboard perched on wooden platform right below the bell platform Laying of the cornerstone in 1924 for the new building at Jefferson and Burns, pictured in the center is Dr. Samuel Forrer, new pastor of the merged congregation.



The twentieth century brought tumultuous changes to Detroit which were reflected in the fortunes of the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church and the members of its congregation. The church has been blessed with long terms from outstanding pastors, including Rev. Samuel Henry Forrer, from 1916-1945 and Rev. Allan Andrew Zaun, from 1946-1980; Both presided over a critical period of challenge in Detroit's history, and the continuity of their leadership has kept JAPC centered on serving the Detroit community.

Dr. Forrer's 29 year tenure largely fell between the two World Wars. Detroit was a boom town in the 1920s, but with a precarious, up-and-down economy. Enormous population growth placed huge burdens on the city infrastructure, already stretched to the limit. City boundaries expanded for the last time in 1926, the same year that the new church opened. Church expansion also meant debt. JAPC owed $175,000 on the new building, only 14% of the price of construction. The debt was thought to be well secured by the value of the former Bethany Church property as well as the old JAPC property and Newberry Chapel on Rivard.

The crash of 1929 changed everything. By 1932, 223,000 Detroit workers were jobless. Many who were employed were working fewer hours or for lower pay. JAPC responded to community needs from 1933 to 1935 through a committee named the Grocery Department, which reported at annual JAPC congregational meetings. The Grocery Department furnished many families in the parish with all of their daily food requirements, or provided temporary help with food and coal in the winter.

The Depression also meant that JAPC's real estate assets were suddenly worth only a fraction of their former value -- in fact, less than the original cost of building these churches. In 1932 the bank holding the note for JAPC was placed in receivership. As the general financial condition began to improve, JAPC resumed making interest and principal payments, but by 1939 the receiver was anxious to make a cash settlement to close the books. It was proposed that JAPC should make an immediate payment of $50,000, and to pay off an additional $25,000 within three years. This presented the trustees with two challenges: raising the gifts for the immediate cash payment, and accepting that the church would never pay off the entire debt in full. The negotiated settlement was accepted, the initial funds raised, and the debt was finally erased.

Dr. Zaun's 34 year tenure as pastor began at the peak of Detroit's population, 1,849,568, and ended when the population of the city was just over a million. Musical excellence and strong preaching were the hallmarks of his ministry. Programs continued to expand and membership reached its zenith in the 1950's. However, by the 1960's, as the demographics of Detroit changed, membership loss began. While the metro area continued to grow in population, city population steadily decreased, and became heavily African American. Within city limits, Baptist congregations and churches increased, while the populations of other faiths, including Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian, declined. Once again JAPC was challenged by the residential movement of its core congregation.


Since 1982, under the leadership of the Pastor, Rev. Peter Smith, JAPC with its emphasis upon strong and vital worship, music, education, fellowship and mission has diversified and strengthened its membership .

In the church's worship life, over 80 worship experiences are offered each year - from traditional to informal, from Sunday mornings to mid-week Lenten Breakfasts, from contemplative to Festival Services. Each time the congregation gathers in worship, whether in the beauty of the Sanctuary or Chapel, the services are enhanced by the majestic sounds of the organ and carillon and the joyous songs of the choir and soloists. Others also are exposed to the richness of the church's musical tradition through free musical and carillon concerts throughout the year.

The church's parish life has expanded, from Church School to Vacation Bible Camp, from Kirk Dinners to Sunday Forums, from Joyful Noise to Journey 1x1, from small group studies to Text of the Day, from Bible and Brew to The Adventurers, from Tea and Chatter to the Men's Breakfast, from women's activities to book groups. In each of these programs the church has striven to spiritually deepen the minds and hearts of young and old, and strengthen the lives of married and single.

The church's mission endeavors demonstrate a commitment to positively impact its immediate neighborhood and city. From the Tutoring TREE to the Creative Arts Day Camp, from Homeless Ministry to the Sports Academy, from the Food Pantry to the Learning Academy, from Christmas Baskets to the Fall Fun Fair, the church has sought to be a beacon of hope and refuge to so many who have been affected by the challenges of economic hardship, urban decay and a declining public school system.



No one can predict what tomorrow will bring, but if we are able to build on the strong foundations left us, we can have every confidence that the church will meet whatever challenges and opportunities the future might present. By God’s grace may we, and future generations, demonstrate the same resolute spirit and creative talent that have been the hallmarks of those who have preceded us, as together we seek to serve Christ in the midst of Detroit.





Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church was organized with 46 members on February 8, 1854.  The church was originally at the corner of Jefferson and Rivard.  After merging with Bethany Presbyterian Church in 1924, a new location and building was desired.  The site at Jefferson and Burns was chosen and the structure was completed in 1926.
This building, in English Gothic style, was designed by architect Wirt C. Rowland of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls.  Rowland was deeply interested in Gothic architecture and his design is consistent with a that style, relying on deep reveals for the windows and doorways, and stepped buttresses along the nave rather than extreme ornamentation.



Any tour of Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church is intended to provide an opportunity to examine the various artistic religious symbols found throughout the church. This booklet explains, in each area of the building, the inner spiritual meaning of the many symbols encountered on the way.
Christian symbols, found in the decorative details of Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church, are part of an ancient tradition, a tradition older than Christianity itself. The Greeks of long ago practiced what we consider a pagan religion but one which was faithfully followed by all Greek society. Besides matters of morals and of worship, that pagan faith provided one of history's greatest artistic impulses. The Venus de Miloi, the Apollo Belvidere, the Winged Victory — surely three of the most famous statues on Earth -- were basically idealized portraits of three heathen deities.
The Greeks were not alone. Peoples of the world honored their gods and goddesses with the loftiest artistic expressions of which they were capable.
However, the Jewish people of the Old Testament saw in this artistic form the peril of idolatry. Hence the Commandment forbidding graven images or creating the likeness of anything. Alone, among the ancient peoples, the Jews understand the easy transition from the creation of an image to the worship of that image.
Presbyterian sanctuaries and buildings usually exemplify a gentler comprehension. They seek to reflect the reality that if there be beauty in godliness there is also godliness in beauty. At the same time, they try to maintain a careful harmony and balance between what has been created by humanity and what has been revealed by God.
Many religious symbols have more than one meaning in precisely the same way that there are various interpretations of the Bible, all reflecting the attempt of dedicated scholars to further their understanding of God’s Word and open new vistas of spiritual experience. However, regardless of the symbols used, all are designed to convey an inner spiritual meaning to the outwardly visible signs.
Look about you and learn the stories the symbols tell on every hand.


Physically, the Church Sanctuary is divided into three areas, each symbolic in its own right. They are: the Narthex, the Nave and the Chancel. All of the wood carvings in the sanctuary were done by the Anton Lang family of Oberammergau, Germany.


The Narthex is an outer court or vestibule where in the past one had to remain until having been baptized.
The window on the east side alcove has three sections: the left contains symbols of Baptism; the center of Marriage; and the right of the Resurrection. This is called the "Bride's Window" for it is here that the bride pauses before entering the Sanctuary for her journey to the Chancel.

Eight Circular Window Insets depict:
Golden Crown: God the Father, Creator and Ruler of the universe.
Crown of Thorns: God the Son, symbolic of his suffering and death.   
Dove in Flight: God the Spirit, represents the power and peacefulness of God’s Spirit.
Crossed Fish: Symbol of the Apostle Andrew and in honor of Allan Andrew Zaun’ ministry.
Thistle: Recalls our Presbyterian Scottish Heritage.
Crossed Keys: Symbol of the Apostle Peter and in appreciation of Peter Smith’s ministry.
Grapes, Wheat, Lilies: Represents the Lord’s Supper with the backdrop of the resurrection (lilies)


The Nave, from the Latin navus, means ship, and has been called the ark, bearing us on the sea of Life. The Nave signifies the gathered Church.


Designed by Willet Studios, the huge stained glass window over the balcony is known as the Resurrection Window. It is in three sections; the lower one shows Christ's birth, the middle depicts His ministry, and the top reveals His resurrection.


Designed by Willet Studios, the ten side windows are representative of the Art Nouveau movement, with its emphasis on nature and sinuous, flowing lines. Its decorative patterns include scrolls, grapes and vines


The wood carved angels on the balcony rail represent prayer and praise.


Each side lancet window has a Celtic Cross and one candle, meaning Christ, the Light of the World. The crosses were carved in 1955 by William Nixon, a member of the church.


The ceiling of the Sanctuary has its original 1926 paint.   


Corbels: Along the sides of the Church are corbels, on which the roof trusses rest. These are heads, which are all alike, but the Shields are different and symbolize the Apostles who bore the weight of the early Church.

Apostle: The word apostle means missionary, or in Greek, envoy. Evangelist is the Greek word for Gospel and Gospel is the Middle English word for good news. Many apostles have several symbolic designations.

Starting at the Chancel, facing East, the corbels and shields represent:
Crossed keys (Matthew 16: “keys of the kingdom”)
Bartholomew: (Nathaniel) Flaying knife and stones showing the manner of his death.
Simon the Zealot: A Roman battle ax, indicating manner of his death, and a triangle (the Trinity)
Jude (Thaddeus): A stone tied to a club and three-petal flowers.
James the Lesser: Fuller's club (used by blacksmiths) and stones.
Philip: Pillar and staff, indicating his support of the Church and preaching in distant  lands.
Andrew: St. Andrew's cross, an "X", resembles the one on which he was martyred.
Peter: Crossed keys, symbolic of the Keys of the Kingdom.
Judas: Black shield, often bare of any design.
James the Greater: A sword and triangle — he was killed by Agrippa's sword.
John: A serpent rising from a chalice is based on the legend of the attempt to poison John.
Matthew: Battle ax and three-petal flowers. The ax recalls his manner of death.
Thomas: A carpenter's square. He was a carpenter and the patron saint of architects. A spear recalls his martyrdom.
Paul: A weaver's loom — he was a tentmaker.

Between each corbel are three shields. The center is the American shield. The other shields represent the countries of early Reformed Churches around the world.

Starting at the Chancel, facing East, the shields are:

Scotland: Blue field, gold thistles and a burning bush; above the bush is a dove signifying the Holy Spirit.
England: Scarlet field, gold roses and a burning bush on an open rose, also a book with the inscription, "The Word of the Lord endures forever"; a dove hovers above the book.
Ireland: Green field, gold shamrocks, burning bush.
Holland: Blue field, right corner black, encircled is a temple on a rock with Jehovah in Hebrew letters above. There also are four cherubs, the four winds blowing on the rock from four sides.
Bohemia: Right side is red with Bohemian silver lion rampant; left side is blue with Moravian eagle in checkered scarlet and silver; in center, a cup on a Bible and a palm branch.
Hungary: Red and white striped field, green right corner, center seal shows Christ being baptized. Also are shown a dove and a lamb. A lion in retreat represents Satan.
Switzerland: Red field, seal in center, right side a golden key, left side an eagle, above a radiant sun with IHS, a wreath of oak and olive leaves around. There are several interpretations given to the letters, IHS or IHC. One is, they are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek, IHCOYC (the Latin shifts the C to S) — sometimes it is said to mean “in hoc signo” (in this sign).
France: Blue field, gold fleur-de-lis red stripe on diagonal. Seal of the burning bush and across the flame, Jehovah in Hebrew characters.
Germany: Left top diagonally across field is black, diagonal white stripe. Right bottom field red; left top has scroll reading "Heidelberg Catechism, Palatinate A. D. 1563". Right bottom an oval reading "Free Evangelical Church of Germany".
Italy: Inner shield is red and white bars on gold field with palm branches on either side - a candle in a candlestick is surrounded by seven stars,

The remaining shields are duplicates of these ten.


The Chancel contains the Choir Loft, Organ, the Pulpit and the Communion Table. The Chancel signifies the Church Triumphant.


The four manual and pedal electro-pneumatic instrument with 68 ranks was built by Ernest M. Skinner and installed in 1926. This instrument is one of only three large Skinner organs which remain in their original form.


At the side of the Chancel is the Baptismal Font, the water of which signifies cleansing.


On the front of the Choir Loft is the Celtic Cross, or Cross of Iona, a Scotland island. The circle is a symbol of eternity.


On the wall below the Cross is a carving of a lily which represents resurrection and purity.


The Pulpit, of solid oak, has many symbols. Some, easily identified here are:

Vine & Grapes “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  (John 15).
Roses: symbolize Messianic hope.
Pomegranates: symbol of hope in eternity; the many seeds represent the spread
of the Church.
Acorn & Oak: mean from small beginnings to steadfast strength.
Burning Bush: On the front of the pulpit is a burning bush; Moses' call to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
Shield: Above the bush is the shield, a symbol of faith. (Gen. 15: “I am thy shield.” Ephesians 6:“Shield of faith.”)
Scroll: Below the burning bush are three linen fold panels which resemble a scroll. (Isaiah 34, Rev. 6) “heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll” and “heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.”
Fleur-de-Lis: On the walls of the Chancel are fleur de lis, the three petals signifying the Trinity.
Table: The Communion Table is the symbolic center of a Presbyterian Church. It can also be thought of as symbolizing the Table in the Upper Room where the Lord's Supper was instituted.
The Bible: The open Bible symbolizes the central importance of God’s Word to our worship and life.
Candles: Two candles represent the two natures of Christ, human and divine. 
Elder Chairs: Behind the Table are 7 Elder chairs, symbolizing the importance Presbyterians place on the leadership of the laity in the Church. Worship is a shared responsibility between Pastor and Elders. For instance, Communion is celebrated only with the approval of the Session (Elders).
Carved Heads: The heads on the Chairs, repeated on either side of the pulpit are of Peter, Paul and Calvin.
Hymn Boards: Over the boards are quatrefoils and a four-sided star representing the four gospels or the four Evangelists. On the board is a cross with the Chi Rho symbol for Christ, the first two letters of His name in Greek. Around the cross are quatrefoils. On the bottom is a vine and a rose.



On the stage, there is a cross with the letters IHS. These letters on the cross, can mean "in this cross is salvation". The letters are then said to stand for the Latin words, In Hoc Signo (in this sign). IHS also refers to the first three letters of the word for Jesus in Greek.


Lion and Lamb: Over the stage is the Lion and the Lamb lying down together (Isaiah 11:6) symbolizing peace. Behind them is a five-pointed star, symbol of the Nativity. It is also called Epiphany Star.

At the top of the pillars are the four symbols representing the four gospel writers. (Biblical references are Ezekiel 1and Revelation 4):
St. Matthew: Winged man and a book, interpreted as an attempt to show the human side of Jesus in his gospel.
St. Mark: Winged lion and a book (Jesus was called the Lion of Judah).
St. Luke: Winged Ox and a book. His gospel opens with the sacrifice of Zacharias and emphasizes the sacrificial death of the Saviour.
St. John: An eagle and a book (the spirit of the gospel - an eagle soaring to the throne of Grace).

Plaster work on the ceiling and beams:

Roses: Isaiah - "the desert shall bloom like a rose".  Roses in general - are interpreted as
meaning Messianic Hope.
Four petal roses: the four gospels.
Five petal roses: the Christmas rose, Rose of Sharon - Christ (Solomon 2:1)
Luther Roses: which has a white star in the center.
Fruits: Fruits symbolize the fruits (gifts) of the Spirit.


Created by Brian Hamilton (former Associate Pastor), it depicts the seal of the Presbyterian Church.  Its symbols  include: Cross, Chalice, open Bible, Pulpit, Dove, Flames, Font & Trinity.

The stained glass door insets are:

Keys: Keys to the Kingdom — spiritual power of the Church.
Open Book: The Bible — accessible to all.
Anchor: Jesus — our sure anchor, a symbol of Hope.
Six Pointed Star: Double triangle, the Creator's star — also the Star of David.
Cornucopia: Thanksgiving
Lamb: Standing lamb is the risen Christ; lying down, the suffering Christ.


In 1957, the room was renovated to accommodate its use as a chapel. In 1997, it was renamed to honor the 34 year ministry (1946-1980) of the Rev. Allan Zaun and his wife, Helen.


Celtic Cross: On the Table is a Celtic Cross which stands on a base of Iona marble from the Holy Isle of Scotland. The island was settled by St. Columba in 563 A. D. The circle represents eternity.

Candles: The candles, one on either side of the cross, represent the two natures of Christ, human and divine.

Fleur-de-lis: On the walls symbolize the Trinity.

Cross & Crown: On the top of the Hymn Boards we see a Cross and Crown, which are a symbol of victory; triumph over death is promised to those who are faithful.

Chalice: Carved on the front of the Communion Table.

Freize: In the plaster work of the ceiling we find many symbols of flowers, fruits, etc...

Stained Glass: Designed by Willet Studios, depicting the church’s emphasis on music, education and polity. The stain glass door insets depict a Cross and a Chalice.


Trefoils:  in stone around windows represent the Trinity.


Bush: Over the mantel is a burning bush on a shield. The bush tells of Moses' command from God
and the shield is a shield of faith.
Border: Border encircling the room shows the vine (Christ) and branches (believers).
Roses: Isaiah — "the desert shall bloom like a rose".  Roses in general — are interpreted as meaning Messianic Hope. Four petal roses — the four gospels; Five petal roses — the Christmas rose for the Nativity; Rose of Sharon-Christ (Solomon 2:1) Luther Roses - which has a white star in the center

The detailing of vines and grapes in the top section of the wood paneling is a plaster cast.

The stain glass door inset depicts knitting needles and yarn, a reference to women's activities.


Trefoils:  in stone around windows represent the Trinity.


Peacock: The peacock over the mantel signifies eternal life because of the annual renewal of its plumage.
Border: encircling the room shows the vine (Christ) and branches (believers).
Wheat & Grapes: The Eucharist.
Pomegranates: The fruitful earth because of its many seeds.
Olive Branch: Peace.
Daisy: The innocence of the Divine Child.
Violet: Humility.
Grapes: Blood of Christ 
Lily: Purity and the resurrection.
Olive Tree: The Grace of our Lord.
Shamrocks: Represents the Trinity.

The detailing of vines and grapes in the top section of the wood paneling is a plaster cast

The stain glass door inset depicts knitting needles and yarn, a reference to women's activities.


Frieze: Plaster work of grapes, vines, roses and wheat. Wheat is taken to mean the staff of life. Wheat and
grapes symbolize the communion - bread and wine.

Shields of the Apostles in plaster are:
Matthew: Three money bags - he was a tax collector.
John: A Serpent rising from a cup. Jesus said John and James should drink of his cup.
Bartholomew: (Nathaniel) A flaying knife - showing the manner of his death.   
Matthias: Primitive double edged ax, recalling the manner of his death.
Peter: Crossed keys - keys of the kingdom.  (Matthew 16)
James the lesser: A saw recalling his death - sometimes Simon has a saw.
Philip: A knife recalls his martyrdom.
Jude: (Thaddeus) Represented by a club.

The Wooden Screen: Quatre-foils—Any four-lobed leaf is identified with the four gospels or evangelists.


Stained glass door insets:
Hour Glass: Meaning the mortality of man.
Scales: The last judgment.
Dagger: The sword of the spirit.
Armour Helmet: Helmet of salvation.
Crown/Thorns: Sorrow and Jesus' passion.
Crown: Power and majesty of God.
Chi Ro: Greek letters for Christ
Leaf/Vines: Palm branch (Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem) and vines (“I am the vine, you are the branches”).
Torch: Witnessing for Christ, “Let your light shine”.
Scroll: God’s Word and our study of its contents.



Ship: A stone carving of a ship which symbolizes the Church.


Bush: A stone carving of a burning bush and a carving of St. Michael, in Christian tradition, he is the archangel with the sword, the conqueror of Satan.


Symbols: On the down-spouts there are many symbols, a star, a shamrock, anchor and cross and others, and on the eave troughs can be seen the vine and branches.


Garden Walk: Created in 1995, to honor the ministry of Peter Smith as Pastor of JAPC, it serves to remind all who enter of the Psalmist’s words: “I was glad when they said until me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”


Memorial Garden: Created in 1992, from a bequest from Florence Steep, its completion insured that there would be a final resting place of beauty and peacefulness for the cremains of those who worshipped in our midst. It reminds us that we are indeed “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”