Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: The Symbol from Amsterdam

Looking Back

Image: archives-pic_cropped.jpg

Looking Back: The Symbol from Amsterdam

The World Council of Churches came into being at their first Assembly in 1948. A year later, in 1949, the Guild displayed one of the plaques given to delegates at a meeting in Edinburgh. This piece was published in September 1949.

The Symbol from Amsterdam

GREAT interest was evinced in the replica of the Amsterdam plaque which was produced by Mrs Jarvis and displayed on the floor of the platform at the Mass Meeting in the Usher Hall.

Many have asked what the exact significance of the ‘tile’ is and we will try to answer.

Holland, as you know, has a soft ‘clayey’ soil which has given rise to a great earthenware industry made specially famous by the work coming from the quaint little town of Delft. At Amsterdam there is a large factory of earthenware work which specialises in the making of tiles, and it has become the custom that, to commemorate outstanding events in Holland, special tiles have been struck from time to time.

It is not therefore surprising that a consignment of commemorative plaques was made and one of these presented as a souvenir to each member of the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

So far as we can find out the symbolism is as follows:-

The Ship is the “Ark of Salvation” – that is the Christian Church. It sails over the storm-tossed waters of life in this world, bearing its cargo of souls to the haven, or Heaven (it is the same root in the word) where they desire to be.

The mast of the ship is the Cross, which is the sign of the evangelisation of the whole world for Christ. The round symbol within which the design is contained symbolises the whole world which is illuminated and filled with golden light from the Cross.

The Greek word Oikumene represents the ideal towards which the Ecumenical Movement strains, ie., the recovery of the undivided state of the Church in the early centuries when, after Constantine’s conversion, there was one OIKUMENE or co-ordinated system of government in Church and State, constituting one Great Family, supranational and universal.

Previous: Transplants in Order

Looking Back menu