Saturday, January 30, 2016

St. James Lutheran Church - Portland, OR

St. James Lutheran Church is located in downtown Portland, Oregon northwest of the Hawthorne Bridge over the Willamette River. 
St. James Lutheran Church in Portland at the corner of Park Ave and Jefferson Street.
The congregation was founded in October of 1890. The Pioneer Chapel was built during the 1890s and the Sanctuary was finished between 1907 and 1910. 
The Sanctuary as viewed from an upper balcony.
The outside of the structure was originally brick, but then replaced by roughly textured Tenino sandstone. The tower was removed in 1951 because of structural problems and then it was replaced in 1974. An educational annex was added in 1956. It is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Sanctuary and Pioneer Chapel were put on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1975. 
The Park Ave view of the church.
The Jefferson Street view of the church.
The oak altar, pulpit and lecturn were installed in 1910 along with the painted organ pipes.

Stained glass windows of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and Christ Blessing Little Children were made by the Povey brothers who ran a glass studio that supplied windows in churches and homes throughout the Pacific Northwest. 
Christ blessing children. Given to the church by the Luther League in 1907.
Christ's hair, and the childrens' hair, for that matter, is distinctively gray. It makes Christ appear much older. 
Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane is also distinctive because of Christ's hair, but this time because it is a blonde, unruly mop - more of a Lion's King mane. Christ appears much younger. This was also created in 1907.
The stained glass of Christ and the children complements the baptismal font which was the gift of the owner of a granite company, also  in 1907. It is made of carved marble and has "Suffer little children to come unto me" carved around the upper lip. 
The stained glass window over the front door represents the symbol of St. James. It was made by Bryce Anderson of Oregon in 1982. 
An inner view of the stained glass, interrupted on the inside by a staircase. The clam shell is a symbol of St. James and most of the other tie-ins to St. James elude me. 
The Journey of Faith, on the west wall, is an eight panel Honduran mahogany wood carving by Leroy Setziol, a Northwest carver, called the father of Oregon woodcarving. Here is a video segment of a visit to Setziol's Oregon home and studio. Setziol does not work from sketches, he just starts to chisel and goes where the wood allows him to go. His works are not sanded, he carves and then applies oils. Each panel is a story, event or person in the history of Christianity. 
A portion of the Setziol installation. 
The first panel is an obvious clam shell, the symbol of St. James. Below is a fish, a symbol of Christianity. 
The second panel. None of this symbolism jumps out at me.
The third panel. Setziol has a fascination with the crucifixion and there is an obvious cross here.
The crucifixion with two women at the base of the cross. The inside form of the women is a heart. 
The fifth panel. A native looking face to the left and two clerical looking faces to the right. 
The sixth panel. The right side seems like a nod to fertility with a child representing each breast and a womb full of children. 
The very cool seventh panel. I envision Abraham and Sarah.
The wonderful eighth panel. Setziol is known for his geometric shapes and this is full of them. A large dart board. 
The window on the north wall of the Chapel was donated by the Mission League in 1891. It is the oldest window at St. James. I looked briefly in the Chapel, but stayed primarily in the Sanctuary. 

The windows on the north and east walls of the Sanctuary were installed in the late 1940s. 
There are windows for each of the four evangelists. I only show Matthew.
A symbol for the nativity.
A symbol for the resurrection. It may be a stylized representation of the lotus flower. 
Grapes represent the blood of Christ, particularly in reference to the Eucharist as here with the cup. A grape vine is a reference to Christ. 
Wheat represents the harvest reaped from sowing the Gospel. When near grapes, as this one is, it is also a reference to the body of Christ in the Eucharist. 
The Lily of the Valley appears in early spring and symbolizes Christ's "advent," a Latin word meaning "coming," or the waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. 
This is known as the Agnus Dei, Latin for "Lamb of God." Christ as the lamb is on a book with seven seals which represent the final judgment. The banner is a symbol of victory, and with the cross, is a symbol of the resurrection and the triumph of Christ over sin and death. 
Song of Solomon 2:1 proclaims, "I am the rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys."  Some Christians believe the rose is a reference to the church and some believe it is a reference to Christ and some believe the rose is Christ and the lily is the church. Sharon is found in Galilee between Mt. Tabor and Lake Tiberias and is a reference to lowliness. 
Psalms 150:3 says, "Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre." 
Another reference to Psalms 150:3.
Luther designed a seal with a red heart at the center with a black cross inside. The red heart represents love, joy and peace produced by faith. The cross reminds the believer of Christ's sacrifice for all people. The white rose which it is superimposed on is the color of angels and blessed spirts. The blue background represents the hope of heavenly joy. There is also a gold ring, not well visible here, which represent's heaven's eternal bliss.
Luther's Seal. The Easter lily around it is symbolic of Christ's resurrection as it blooms in spring from a lifeless bulb. 
We visited on a cold, rainy morning and were pleasantly greeted and allowed to go inside. A couple were inside cleaning and she mentioned to us that they were married in the church about 50 years before and have been attending ever since. Very nice.
One more random window with beautiful dark colors. 


  1. Great information about Setziol. That video you link to is a treasure. This was a lovely church, made even better by the friendly people inside.

  2. Love the wood panels--very unique.