Symbols of the moderator: Gavel, Stole, Cross

Upon installation, the Moderator of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities is presented three symbols of the office to be used during the term as moderator.

The Gavel

The plate on the gavel has the following inscription:

“To the Presbytery of St. Paul In Loving Memory of Dr. James Wallace Pioneer Presbyterian 1849-1939 From his children”;

James Wallace joined the faculty of Macalester College in 1887, two years after the school began classes. He was one of six faculty members and taught primarily Greek and Bible Studies. In 1890 Wallace became dean of the college and in 1894 he was persuaded to serve as president (a modest man, he accepted only the title of acting president).

Dr Wallace served as president until 1906 and is credited with keeping the college alive in times of great struggles for funding. He worked unceasingly at recruiting faculty, expanding the curriculum, seeking funds and establishing a firm fiscal and academic base for the school. When he rejoined the faculty in 1906 the college had paid off its debt, has a balanced budget, and had established a million-dollar endowment.

When he died in 1939 at age 90, Macalester’s trustees adopted a resolution describing his influence on the college: “Dr. Wallace guided Macalester College through the most perilous years of its development . . . It was his courage and vision that kept Macalester College open when other minds had determined to close it. It was his sacrificial example that led the faculty to suffer financial deprivation in order that the institution might continue to live . . . There was a dignity in his presence and a reserve of intellectual power and independence that enabled him to meet on terms of mutual respect the greatest leaders of education, commerce, and finance. He was universally recognized as a man who in character and intellectual ability ranked with the most illustrious builders of American life.”

The above information about Dr. Wallace was provided by Nancy Peterson of the Public Information Office of Macalester College.

By 1999 the gavel showed the effects of the years and being passed from moderator to moderator. Ted Shave, a member of Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield, donated his professional skills as a woodworker to refurbish the gavel.

The Cross

The Moderator’s Cross was created to symbolize the uniting of the Presbyteries of St. Paul and Minneapolis to form the Presbytery of the Twin Cities in 1975. It was made by Carl Soderberg, a minister member and staff member (at the time), now in retirement in Albuquerque.  It was presented to the first moderator of the new Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.

Carl wrote as follows: “The Presbytery of the Twin Cities was created from the former Presbyteries of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was not an easy birth, the issue going to the Synod of Minnesota for resolution. As I recall, the votes in St. Paul were negative and the votes in Minneapolis were positive. Synod’s resolution was to count the votes on both sides of the proposed merger with the positive votes carrying the day. Thus a new presbytery.

The legend of the Moderator’s Cross reads:

“Two streams of life come together at the base of the Cross in new life creating the Presbytery of the Twin Cities. The upward flowing of that life extends through the upturned arms embracing all of humanity in the love of God found in Jesus Christ. A Lake Superior agate centered in the earth depicts The place from which that love is expressed to persons throughout the world. The overall design of the Cross conveys the movement of God’s Spirit among God’s people, that they shall find Trust, hope and new life in God’s love given to them.

The Stole

When Sandra Hawley served as Moderator of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area in 1996, her congregation, Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, had a stole made for her to wear at ordinations, installations, and other celebratory events.

The original stole was handmade by Connie Wilkie and Dorothy Sorenson, members of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church. The stole was given to Sandra Hawley both as a symbol of the office of moderator and as a reminder that Oak Grove’s support and greeting that went with her during the year.

In November 1996, the stole was copied and presented to the newly installed moderator, Jim Sanders, as a permanent vestment of the Moderator of the Twin Cities Area.

The stole symbolizes the yoke of service taken on by the moderator during the year he or she serves the Presbytery in that role. It provides a symbol of that service during worship services and other events in which the moderator participates. The doors of the Chapel at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville inspired the design.

The stole uses all liturgical colors: green representing spiritual growth; red representing the Pentecostal fire of the Holy Spirit; white representing purity; and purple representing repentance, suffering, and royalty.

The stole also contains symbols basic to our Christian beliefs -
  • Cross represents the incarnate love of God given to us through Jesus Christ, and his passion, and;
  • Resurrection;
  • Circles of green, yellow and white signify eternity and our growing in faith and love through Jesus Christ. They also form a Celtic Cross, symbolizing Presbyterian historical links;
  • Open Bible with alpha and omega symbolizes the centrality of Scripture and the sovereignty of God;
  • Rays of sun denote Jesus Christ as the light to the world and our commitment to carry the Gospel to others;
  • Descending dove represents the Holy Spirit;
  • Grapes and wheat represent the elements of Holy Communion through which we celebrate God’s covenant of grace through Christ’s death and resurrection. The elements are represented as basic ingredients to indicate our dependence on connection to the earth and its resources.
“Symbols of the Moderator” Compiled by Manley Olson Moderator, PTCA, May 2000
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