Church planting leader Ed Stetzer says, in Planting Missional Churches: “Logos leave first impressions (and maybe, last impressions) with the community about the new church.” What is true of a new church can, in this case, also be said for an existing church.
Granted, the logo should never be a substitute for substance. Some solid churches have no logo. Many churches with cool logos would be found unfaithful if examined for their doctine and mission. But I think, as a general rule, what Stetzer suggests is true. For people who merely drive by a church or sign, and who have yet to make their way through the doors of a particular building or encounter the people of a particular church, the logo can leave an impression. Positive or negative.
The logo of Walnut Hill Church is simple, yet it is significant. But before I explain the significance, I want to first offer my appreciation for our friends at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church in Ohio. When I first came to Walnut Hill and began sketching possible logos I was introduced Walnut Creek, which had a logo very similar to the one I was designing. When I inquired about the possibility of purchasing permission to use their logo rather than developing a similar symbol from scratch, the leaders of Walnut Creek PCA, and the artist who designed it, graciously gave us free and full use of it. So again, thanks our partners in ministry at Walnut Creek.
Our logo is a relflection of both our history and our message.
It is a reflection of our history because when the church was founded in 1932 the building was constructed on a hilltop in a part of Bristol known as Walnut Hill. On the grounds, which is now part of one of our parking lots, for years stood a massive Balck Walnut tree. The logo is a Black Walnut leaf, which can serve to remind us of our roots, and how God has worked in this church for more than three-quarters of a century. Incidentally, when the Black Walnut tree was finally felled in order to build a fellowship hall and expand parking, one of the carpenter/artists of our church formed a cross from the wood that now adorns the chancel area of our sanctuary.
The Cross within the leaf is a relflecion of our message. As Paul the Apostle wrote, we are determined to know nothing but Christ crucified among us. (1 Corinthians 2.2) We proclaimn the cross, and all its aspects: God’s Glory, Our Sinfulness, God’s Grace, God’s Provision, the Love of God in Christ, the Sacrificial and Substitutionary death of Jesus, the Promises of God who is at work in us and through us, etc. In short, we believe that the Gospel is our only hope, and that when properly applied to our lives the Gospel is the power of God to transform any person and any place.
We need regular reminders of the truth and power of the Gospel and about our past. And our logo is a simple reflection bringing both to mind.