Hope’s logo and altar center is based off of the legend of the pelican that was adopted into Christianity by the 2nd century, when it appeared in the Physiologus, a Christian adaption of popular animal legends and symbols. The legend tells of little pelicans who strike their parents, and the parents, striking back, kill them. But on the third day the mother pelican strikes herself and opens her side, pouring blood over her dead young. In this way they are revivified and made well.
So Our Lord Jesus Christ says also through the prophet Isaiah: "I have brought up children and exalted them, but they have despised me." (Is. 1:2) We struck God by serving the creature rather than the Creator. He deigned to ascend the cross, and when His side was pierced, blood and water gushed forth unto our salvation and eternal life.
Theodore Steinmeyer, the architect of Hope, wrote: “The altar’s center is richly carved in high relief, showing a mother pelican feeding her young in a nest, sustaining their lives by plucking into her own breast for blood, of which the young partake. This is one of the finest symbols of the Christian Church, bringing to mind that we have life eternal through the blood of Jesus Christ, shed by Himself, for us.”
January 18, 1931, Dedication of Hope Ev. Lutheran Church and School