This question was posed recently to pastors and lay leaders in our district. Their answers may surprise you!
The logo is divided into four sections, numbered clockwise starting in the upper left quadrant.
Here are some of the interpretations, according to section, with the most likely interpretation in bold:
The Chi-Rho, a symbol for Jesus Christ; alternatively, a cross with a shepherd's staff superimposed upon it.
One respondent wrote, "[Christ] is the heart of our message and ...transforms our hearts, giving us new life and the joy of living and witnessing for Him." Another, that "Christ is to be the center, the heart of mission."
One respondent wrote, "Box 2 shows the 3 wood planes we need to shave off old, encrusted attitudes like "We've never done that before!" or "You're asking me to actually give money to my congregation, when all my sports obligations cost so much!" (fill in your own "cross" to bear).
Others more correctly identified the items in section two as ploughs, connecting the NJ District logo with the official Seal of the State of New Jersey, indicating that our mission and witness begins where Christ has placed us-- in New Jersey.
Alternatively, according to one respondent, the ploughs might "symbolize the Holy Ministry... they represent workers in the harvest fields (Luke 9:62)."
The ship is the symbol of the church, where Christ's servants find regular sustenance in Word and Sacraments as they are sent to navigate the changing tides of the world, all the while loving those outside the church and engaging them with the joy of the Gospel of Jesus. The ship, wrote one respondent, also figures in many Bible accounts "such as Jonah, Paul, the disciples who were fishermen, and to which Jesus often escaped to from the crowds."
One respondent reflected, "Traditionally the ship represents the church sailing safe and protected from all dangers. I also like to think of the ship as a symbol for the church sailing on its missionary journey to all corners of the earth."
Perhaps the broadest range of interpretation belonged to this section of the logo-- with ideas ranging from ocean waves (representing the 200 miles of NJ shore, and the waves of water that connect us to Christ in our baptism) to Australian boomerangs ("reminding us of all 3 LCMS districts residing in New Jersey [NJ, SELC and English], and how we should always remain 'mates!' ").
Others saw the images in this section as yokes, which we are called by Christ to pick up as we follow after him in mission and ministry.
However, most identified the images in this section as representing the Holy Spirit, in the tongues of fire that came down on Pentecost to enliven and embolden the mission of the apostles.
One person wrote, "The flames of the Holy Spirit empower every loving, witnessing act as He places us in the middle of those who need the message of salvation." Another, that these flames represent God still at work in the world, "present in and among us."
The red cross at the center of the logo, "holds us all together and is central to our mission and message as God's people"-- with the color red symbolizing the blood of Christ which brings grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Thanks to all who took the time to respond to the district logo survey! We pray that knowing more about our district logo will help us connect in new ways to the mission of Christ Jesus in our area.
More thoughts on the logo and its meaning? Email us!