Many of those who have worshipped at Chesterfield's Central Methodist Church over the years will be familiar with the banners hanging in the Sanctuary. The main ones are suspended from the organ speaker screens, but in more recent years banners have been produced for the Prayer Area and the Tinies' Corner beneath the balcony. Another large one was also made for the back of the piano, proclaiming appropriately: 'Then Sings my Soul'.
For many, these banners form a contemplative focal point during quiet moments. The designs may be strikingly abstract: for example the 'Light and Life to All He Brings' banner, which was originally intended for Christmas, but could equally be suited to any time of year.
More conventional, traditional designs depict scenes of Calvary softened by spring flowers; grapes, vines and wine for Harvest; or silhouetted Kings on camels, striding out across the plains.
The wording is usually the starting point, drawn from well known Bible texts, which it is hoped may be helpful and even uplifting focal points as people prepare for worship. Once a design to complement the text has been visualised a great deal of time and effort goes into selecting fabrics whose colours and textures catch the eye and the light, often enhancing key images or words with glitter and sparkles.
One very different design which needed no words, was used at Pentecost, and features lengths of flame coloured ribbon encircled by flying doves.
There is now a substantial collection of banners stored at Central, more than can be pictured here, and from which selections can be made to suit the changing seasons of the Church year, or even to mark special occasions.
Whilst some are specifically suited to Easter, Harvest or Christmas, others are suited to display at any time of the year. One such banner was first hung to coincide with the wedding of two of Central's members, and reminds us of 'Faith, Hope and Love' and that 'the greatest of these is Love.'
Cathy Warren has been involved in the production of these for many years; she has been joined over the past seven years by Alyson Offiler and Bronwen Humphrey. Sadly they have been unable to meet to plan, cut, stitch and stick during the pandemic, but Cathy was inspired to work alone on a new banner, featured in our main photo, which will be hung once Church is finally able to open again for physical worship.
Here Cathy explains what inspired her to produce the latest banner:
"One of the most inspirational, edifying, and comforting things I saw during the first lockdown was 'The UK Blessing'*, sung by people from over 65 churches from all over the country. How wonderful that over 4 million people have listened to it. It sent tingles through me. I was really blessed by the words.The banner I made during the 3rd lockdown draws on some of the words from the song which was inspired by: Numbers 6 v.22-27; Deuteronomy 28 v.6; and Exodus 33v.14. I hope the new banner blesses you too when we're able to worship together again."
*If you haven't heard 'The UK Blessing' yet, you can find it here.