Building & Art History

Learn more about some of the interesting building and art history at Walnut Hills.

Walnut Hills is proud of its rich building and art history.

The Celebration Center at Walnut Hills UMC could be likened to a giant, blank canvas.
The walls of the Center are very large and open. Through the help of many, the Celebration Center has come to life with color and works of art.


  • Walnut Cross — 1989: The artist, Rev. Bill Cotton, worked with various woods to create things of beauty. In 1989, Rev. Cotton, senior minister at Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines, was asked to create a walnut cross for celebrative worship. Today, the cross sits on the altar table, as a one-of-a-kind piece of art

  • Altar Table — 1995: For most of his adult life, Tom Lines worked with wood. At the time of the construction of the church building, Lines was invited to create an altar table for the celebration center. While most of the table is of birch, Lines inset a walnut cross configuration on each side panel

  • Candle Stand — 1996: When the church was begun, there was need for light that traditionally comes from candles. So, Rod Kruse created a piece of art with places for large candles behind a screen of porous metal, with a larger candle in front. The front candle is lit whenever the multi-purpose room is serving as a place for celebrative worship. The four candles behind are lit during Advent, forming an upright Advent wreath

  • Quilted Banner — 2001: Connie Gilmore, the artist, worked as a quilter for many years. Her work, hanging at the front of the Celebration Center, uses dozens of different colors and fabrics. Interwoven on the fabrics is a solid-colored cloth, shaped like the crooked crosses at the church’s entrance

  • World Trade Center Cross Baptismal Font — 2006: The cross is a gift from the New York City Fire Department. Martha Schut, wife of former senior minister Doug Peters, is a long-time friend of Chris Ranck, a New York psychotherapist who worked closely with members of the NYC Fire Department. Firefighter Jonathan Ielpi was killed as he tried to rescue others following the attacks. Jonathan’s father Lee, a retired firefighter, worked with Ranck to arrange for Walnut Hills UMC to have a cross in memory of Ielpi. It was cut from the beam by Carl Scheetz, another firefighter. In 2006, Des Moines Artist Ted Lyddon Hatten incorporated the cross into a baptismal font. There are currently only two other World Trade Center Crosses of similar sizes anywhere in the world. One is housed at Engine 62 in Bronx, NY, and a third was cut for display at the Vatican in Rome