The Church Ship, the Superb

St. Gregory the Great (540-604) wrote that the Church is a ship in which God takes us safely through life from one shore, birth, to the other, death. The image of a boat is found throughout the Bible, for example in the stories of Noah’s ark, Jonah, and Christ sleeping in the disciples’ fishing boat during a storm. It is not surprising that the ship became the universally accepted symbol for the Church. Even the word for our house of worship, our nave, is derived from the Latin word “navis,” meaning “ship or vessel.” Our nave, like others, gives the appearance of an inverted wooden ship under which we take shelter.

As long ago as 1,000 years, model ships were hung by Christians in their churches, especially in the port cities of what became the Lutheran countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, northern Germany, Latvia, and Estonia.

Many of our charter members were of Swedish descent, as were the first three pastors. The Jensens presented the church ship as a gift to the congregation in 2002, dedicating it to those charter members and to their particular Christian tradition. It serves to remind the congregation to discern and pursue new opportunities for ministry.

The church ship was built in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Erik Pedersen, a retired seaman. It is a model of The Superb, an early 19th century coppered brig which carried both cargo and immigrants to this country.