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  • I love burlap and felt banners. This one was made by my mother-in-law circa 1966-67 of her six (of eight) children playing with their toys after Christmas. My husband is the oldest on the stool with his new astronaut helmet.

    When my family left the Catholic Church in 1977 for an Assembly of God Church it was definitely the felt banners I missed most. Our new church was "iconoclastic," a term I learned later, which meant we had no religious objects or imagery. The songs lyrics were on an overhead projector and we sat in rows of stackable office chairs. The pastor spoke from a podium and wore a suit like a businessman. Still, we had a string trio-- two violins and a cello, and an organist.

    In the Catholic Church of the 1960s and '70s, however, there was an ever-changing display of large felt banners hanging in the sanctuary. Wheat and grapes, a dove diving down into wavy water, a giant chalice with a wafer floating over it. I loved them more than the stained glass and statues of Mary and Joseph.

    One day my sister asked our new pastor if she could make a banner for church. To his credit, he said yes, that would be wonderful. I was shocked-- I knew we didn't do that anymore. But my sister went home and laid out the large squares of felt on the living room floor and cut out the iconic shapes I remembered. After that, the podium was adorned with liturgical banners each week and each season. The small community loved us-- we were their children-- and there were no complaints, only praise. That is where I learned what it means to be church.

    (On the next page is a logo my sister did for the preschool my mother opened in 1993. The style is the same as Betty Heymans' 1966 banner...)
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