First United Presbyterian Church

Of Bread, Wine and Christ Light: A Remembrance of Our Heritage

By Jim Gilbreath

The recent passing of sculptor Hank Kaminsky provides a sad but timely opportunity to call attention to the altar table service that our Church has used since the turn of 1990. The chalice, pitcher, bread plate, and candleholders were commissioned by member Theo Hallin’s children (David and Elizabeth) upon her passing in 1987. Theo was a faculty member at U of A and a long-time member of the Church and Chancel Choir.  She served as the choir librarian for many years.

Sculptor Kaminsky was commissioned for the task. He is noted for his large-scale work (e.g., the epic scale World Peace Fountain at the Fayetteville Town Center, cast in bronze.). The pieces he created for our Sanctuary make use of various metals, and are substantial and weighty in their presence. 

As reported in A Light on the Hill, Kaminsky communicated the following thoughts to the Rev. Dr. Paul Debenport at the time:

A welcoming gesture is intended in the way the Plate opens outward to the congregation.

The message on the chalice, I am the vine, you are the branches, overlies words in Greek and Hebrew which refer to the underpinnings of our faith: In the beginning.

The pitcher bears the message: Behold the lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the World.

On the candleholders, the Greek letters of the word Christ appear below the surface like a glimpse of the foundation.  The phrase, The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it, is segmented in layers.

Several years later, in the mid-90’s, the Rev Stephen Carl created the hand-fired ceramic oil candles, which are still in use today, to complete the setting.

The season of Lent is a very timely moment to ponder Mr. Kaminsky’s work and the timely message it conveys in our journey to the Cross.  It is also a very good time to stop and give thanks for the generous love and ministry we have experienced within the community that is FUPC.

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