60th Anniversary Torch

Designed and created by Herm Stolte

Made of 19 different species of wood, this torch uses them to depict our fundamental belief in the Trinity, the founding people of River Park Church and the great diversity of nations we represent today.

The story behind the torch

When you ask someone who enjoys the diversity of wood to create an object, you can expect to see a few woods you may never have heard of before. When first asked to consider making a torch to pass from one generation to the next, I think I agreed – then promptly forgot all about it. I was abruptly reminded of it a before the anniversary celebration when it was announced from this pulpit that I was going to make one. When I lay awake awhile that night, God, in His mercy, gave me the concept, complete with details, of the torch I’d like to explain to you now.

A fundamental belief of Christianity and thus of River Park Church is in the triune God. I’ve represented God the Father, the creator, with the diversity of woods used, because God is a God of diversity. When he created trees, he didn’t stop with a generic tree to produce wood, shade, fruit and nuts. He didn’t stop with a hundred different trees but the latest estimate I read was 17 – 20,000 wood producing species growing in the world big enough for crafts.

Jesus Christ, our saviour, is represented by the crosses inlaid in the upper section. They are made of Bloodwood and remind us of his sacrificial death.

The Holy Spirit is represented by the flames on the top. Since the Holy Spirit is present in the church through the people, I’ve made each flame represent a different people group of the world present at River Park Church, by using a wood representative of that part of the world.

  • The prairie provinces are represented by a piece of local Saskatoon wood
  • The west coast by Pacific Yew
  • Eastern Canadians are symbolized by Butternut
  • Our American members are represented by American Chestnut
  • Central Americans by Spanish Cedar
  • South Americans by Brazilian Rosewood
  • Europeans are symbolized by European Walnut
  • Ethiopia is represented by wood from the coffee tree
  • South Sudan by Kperi
  • Sierre Leone by Cotton Tree wood – specially imported by Grace from Affia
  • Cameroon by Ebony
  • South Africans are symbolized by Pink Ivory wood
  • Our Korean friends assure me that Nanking Cherry is native to Korea
  • The Philippines are represented by Philippine Mahogany
  • Fiji by Kwila

My apologies if I’ve missed any one.

The upper section is made of Birds-eye maple in recognition of our Canadian-ness, the tower stem is of Lodgepole Pine, Alberta’s provincial tree and the shape of the torch locates us as Calgarians.

The base is a nod towards those Dutch founders of River Park Church and is made of European Beech, a good utilitarian material often used as a secondary wood in fine furniture. It is strong, hard, sometimes difficult to work with and somewhat prone to warping. You’ll note that when the torch is passed, the base stays behind!

As with all my work, if you look closely, you can find flaws. That, too, reflects on River Park Church as long as we live on this side of heaven’s gates.