The History of H2O T-Shirts

At the front end of this “Welcome Week,” our church gathered at the park for the last of our summer session worship gatherings. And it just so happened that people from our staff team were wearing seven different designs of H2O T-shirts! I made us all pose for a group portrait, of course (see above) — but then I decided that I wanted to look back on all the individual iterations that I’ve collected through the years. A “History of H2O T-Shirts,” if you will.

And it’s a pretty cool collection of shirts!

2014

The church started its annual tradition of printing and distributing H2O T-shirts in August of 2014. And honestly, this edition is still perhaps my favorite! I like the design with the name “H2O Kent” and all the circles, hexagons, and triangles that have become a part of our branding. And I like the look and feel of the shirt, too.

2015

In August of 2015, we went with a simpler design: our horizontal wordmark in black and yellow, on a classic gray T-shirt. I think a lot of other people from our church consider this to be the best of the H2O T-shirts, and I would probably also place it in my Top Three. Because there’s just not much to dislike about this shirt! Still, I can’t put it at number one because the fabric of the shirt is not as soft and smooth as some of the others.

2016

The design of the 2016 T-shirts is probably my favorite. The color combinations are very pleasant, too. But while the fabric on the shirt is super-soft, it also feels a little thin. So I sometimes feel a bit insecure about my body when I’m wearing this one (which, I know, is a pretty vapid consideration, but still…). All the costs for these shirts were covered by the parents of a Kent State student, however, so it’s hard to complain about that.

2017

The T-shirt from August of 2017 is lower in my personal rankings for a few reasons: its design isn’t as immediately recognizable as some of the other iterations of “H2O Church.” The mono-chromatic effect isn’t my favorite, either. And the material of the shirt is that same thin fabric that we used the preceding year — but again, the costs were covered by the generosity of a family in the business. So they were still a blessing.

2018

A Kent State student designed our 2018 T-shirt. I like the design concept, with an emphasis on the triangles alluding to the three directions we want to take students on their spiritual journey at Kent State: Upward, Inward, and Outward. And this shirt was more comfortable to wear, too. Something about the overall effect, though — coming across like an inverted jack-o-lantern — makes me only tend to wear this one in the second half of October.

2019

We went more simple and bold in 2019. Back to our vertically-stacked wordmark. And the fit and feel of this shirt was great. I’ll be curious to see how my perception of this T-shirt evolves over time. But sometimes, I feel like it might be a little too bold. Like, there’s something to be said for subtlety. Even so, I’d put this one in the top half of H2O T-shirt designs we’ve done.

2020

Ah, the pandemic school-year… We didn’t know if we would do T-shirts at all, for fear of virus transmission on the fibers of the fabric (or something like that). But in the end, we decided to run back the design from the preceding year. We just adjusted the color scheme to try and capitalize on current trends. I really like the look of this T-shirt, but I have a harder time figuring out how to match this one with the rest of my wardrobe, so it doesn’t get worn as frequently.

2021

This year’s H2O T-shirt features a map of Kent superimposed with our horizontal wordmark. It’s a neat effect. We had originally hoped to get the shirt in forest green, to keep in step with current trends. But apparently, we’re still dealing with supply chain shortages that have started (and persisted) through the COVID-19 pandemic. White was our fifth choice, but still better than nothing. The material is pretty similar to the stuff we used in 2016 and 2017, so I’m not sure how well it will age. But still, it’s a great shirt.

Special Editions

Circa 2009

This shirt came from before my time in Kent. Almost so long ago that it’s faded from memory. I don’t have this particular shirt in my collection, but my friend Tyler does. He says, “The color is so faded. It was a blue semicircle and black text.”

November 2017

Some Kent State students spearheaded an effort to design, print, and sell H2O sweatshirts in the winter of 2017-18. This shirt is dark gray in color, and it features a small version of our horizontal wordmark with larger triangles, circles, and hexagons positioned around it. I chose to purchase the hooded version of this sweatshirt, but crew necks were also available. I wear it pretty frequently when temperatures are cooler — so it’s a very welcome complement to my H2O T-shirt collection.

October 2018

Our church celebrated the ten-year anniversary of its establishment in October of 2018. We hosted a big reunion celebration and made special-edition T-shirts for the occasion which turned out to be one of my favorite H2O T-shirts of all time. The orange color is an homage to our church’s Bowling Green roots, and the text is positioned in a way to suggest a banner subtly blowing in the breeze.

Circa 2019

These shirts were made for the team of people who help to set up, operate, and tear down all the Production equipment (audio, video, lighting, etc.) for our Sunday morning worship gatherings. This is another shirt that I do not have in my own personal collection, but my friend Tyler does.

Circa 2019

These shirts were made for the team of people who help to run the H2O Kids Team (children’s ministry) for our Sunday morning worship gatherings. I don’t have one of these for myself, but Marci and Olivia do. And I really like both the color and design of this shirt.

October 2020

In spite of all the low points presented by COVID-19, our church’s shift to outdoor, regional gatherings led to a high point in a very nice, special-edition crew-neck sweatshirt. The region with which I was involved came to call ourselves the Fellowship of the Hawk. And, of course, we eventually decided to make a sweatshirt! My daughter Olivia and I collaborated on the design. And if I do say so myself, the sweatshirt turned out pretty well.

Other Artifacts Out There?

It’s entirely possible that I’m missing some H2O T-shirts from this collection. (I’ve already updated the post with three additional T-shirts from the first round that I posted). Please let me know if you have any further information about any of these historical artifacts!

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