It’s that time of year to Deck the Halls and decorate the Christmas Tree at Northminster Church. The 12 foot tree in the Sanctuary was lovingly donated by member Maxine Hansen, in memory of her husband Stu. It has over 7,200 tips and 2,400 lights on it. The Chrismon’s that decorate the tree were delicately made by women of NPC Church many years ago. To this day, they have a very special meaning on our Christmas Tree. Chrismons are a very beautiful symbol of our Faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the story of Chrismon’s beginning:
Frances Kiku Kipps Spencer was born of missionary parents in Karuiza, Japan on July 8, 1917. When she was three years old, her family returned to the United States and grew up in Pennsylvania where her father served as a Lutheran minister. She attended Lenoir Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, and graduated from Averett University in Danville, Virginia. In 1940 she married Harry Wooding Spencer. Mrs. Spencer held various positions at L. Herman’s Department Store in Danville throughout most of the 1940’s. Later she worked as a free-lance artist in television and other commercial areas. Her most important contribution however was in a volunteer activity; the origination and development of the Chrismons idea.
In 1957, Frances Kipps Spencer began thinking of a way to decorate the Christmas tree in her church that would be more suitable for a sanctuary. She thought that the usual brightly colored Christmas ornaments were just not appropriate for a setting of worship, so she began researching and looking for something that would reflect the Christian faith.
According to the dictionary, a Chrismon is a monogram of Christ. But the Chrismon’s as ornaments are more than monograms; they may also tell about Jesus Christ. As the designs grew in number, they included references to the life, ministry, activities, nature and teaching of Jesus. Thus the Chrismons as symbols always point beyond themselves to God. Indeed, the vital feature of the concept is that each design must proclaim some truth about God as seen in Jesus. Simple monograms of Jesus Christ, as well as a few crosses, decorated the first Chrismon tree. As the beauty and meaning of Chrismons attracted people, Frances Spencer added other designs, which were copies in present day material, of signs and symbols used by the earliest Christians. She began to create original designs that depicted Biblical teachings and events.
Mrs. Spencer also wrote an illustrated five books about the Chrismons. Through these books, the Chrismons idea reached countries all over the world. Churches of every Christian denomination used the idea to communicate that Christmas is indeed the celebration of the birth of Christ, as well as to help their members learn more about Jesus. What began by Frances Kipps Spencer at Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, has been called the most significant contribution to Christian symbolism in the twentieth century.