Sharing faith through scroll art

Bob Saylor has never gone on a long distance trip with Volunteers in Mission, but his work has.

Saylor, who enjoys working with wood, can be found in his shop making scroll saw art when he is not building a bed.

He helps the Altoona District VIM, an outreach of the United Methodist Church where Christians offer their talents and skills to serve others at home and worldwide. The local VIM helps with home repair projects within the area as well as working to rebuild homes in other states that have been damaged by natural disasters.

When the volunteers travel to another state to work, Saylor gives them one of his Christian-related works of art to give to whomever they feel should receive one. The gifts have gone to people in charge of the crews as well as others the teams come in contact with during the trips, including homeowners.

Saylor said he usually sends a cross depicting the Nativity because it is popular. It is also the first art placed on the wall in homes ready to be re-occupied.

Ron Hoover, a former mission team leader for VIM, said when a restoration project is completed in North Carolina, a ceremony called “The Last Nail” is performed. He said the group has worked in several areas in the eastern part of the state to repair homes damaged by hurricane winds and flooding and often had to return to Altoona with more work to be done on the house that it was assigned.

But if the house was ready for occupancy, the ceremony was held. Saylor’s wife, Rhonda, said the Nativity cross is hung on the wall at the farewell event to symbolize that the last nail the team puts into the project is used to hang it.

But Saylor’s gifts do not stop there. He gives specially carved crosses to youths being confirmed at Cove Forge (Covedale) United Methodist Church, where he is a member, as well as Williamsburg United Methodist Church and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Williamsburg. The vertical part of cross has the word “Confirmation” followed by “Filled with Joy by the Holy Spirit.” The horizontal section features youths kneeling as they are confirmed and an angel blowing a trumpet.

Saylor says he enjoys the intricate work and has taken special orders as well as given many away to churches or in gratitude to those who have helped him. He said the Nativity crosses have gone to other nations, including Russia and Mexico.

Many of his crosses depict the life of Jesus, including The Ascension, The Birth of Jesus and The Miracle Cross. It depicts the miracles that Christ did on earth, such as healing the blind man, feeding the 5,000 and walking on water.

He said he always likes to have a cross go with the VIM team because it is like a miracle to see homes and lives restored.