Pastor David Averill reflects on the timeless connection and storytelling power of stained glass windows in churches—and what we as a congregation can do to protect this legacy in our own church.
I was confirmed in a church where stained glass was a major part of the architecture. We had a chapel where classic windows, similar to scenes in First UMC’s sanctuary, adorned the chapel, and in the large sanctuary were faceted glass windows (a technique developed in France in the 1920s.)
By the time I was 17, I had traveled in Central Europe, Italy, and Great Britain, observing many styles of stained glass. While church architecture is often expensive, it is an asset to the community that inspires the faithful and new converts over hundreds of years. We give glory to God when we create beautiful art like stained glass. Sacred art tells the “old, old story of Jesus and His love” (to borrow a line from Fanny Crosby’s famous hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story”).
First UMC’s own 27 pieces of sacred art are now in need of repairs. The church installed polycarbonate storm windows over the stained glass windows in 2008 to protect them from damage. However, those window coverings compounded with the way the windows were originally installed in the 1950s, have led to different damage: the windows seeping moisture; the glass bowing in some spots due to heat stress; and the window frames rusting.
After gaining several various bids ranging from $125,000 to $52,000, the Executive Committee approved a bid from Lynchburg stained glass for a little over $75,000, as it was much more comprehensive than the $52,000 bid. Not only will the windows be repaired, but the lexan storm windows would be replaced with a tempered glass covering to allow for more heat dissipation and more light to refract into the sanctuary. This restoration will let our windows continue to vibrantly tell the story of Jesus for decades to come.
Memorial contributions and other designated funds will cover a little over $10,000 for this project. Other funding and lead gifts will cover the other $15,000 in order to start the project. The Executive Committee has set a fundraising goal of $50,000 from the congregation.
Our Easter offering will go to the “Window Repair” fund. We encourage giving along the following tiers:
- Gospel Level ($2,000 or more) donors will have the opportunity to dedicate a window in a loved one’s honor.
- Emblem Level ($500 or more) will receive a pack of greeting cards with our stained glass window on the front.
- Sunray Level ($100 or more) donors will receive our stained glass window tour booklet
Because we believe in the power of stained glass to tell the gospel story, my wife and I are pledging $2,000 for this project in memory of our fathers, David and Sergei, and in honor of our mothers, Lubov and Karen.
Please consider a gift to the “I Love to Tell the Story” campaign today above and beyond your regular tithes and offerings.
Grace and Peace,
Here is a poem I wrote in 2000 called “The House of the Father,” inspired by stained glass:
Within the walls of a great Cathedral, Bared in panes of glass and fired grains of sand, Is a divine sieve, a luminous shawl, Roused by God though made by human hand. When dawn breaks, glories of the Lord shine through, To those on their knees prayers are proved somehow, And pure light strikes rainbowed on every pew; Grand are the parts of heaven God may allow. Constructed in mortar, brick, wood, and stone, A church stands holy and sacred on earth, The only Paradise some will have known; To the devoted, it has a vast worth. A shelter from the wanton ways of the world, The House of the Father rests to all unfurled.