Stained Glass Windows History

History -The Stained Glass Windows of the First United Methodist Church

In the fall of 1954 when the walls of the church building began to rise, the Building Committee, with the help of a small Advisory Committee, began talks concerning the kind and purpose of the sanctuary windows.

Several firms that produced stained glass made proposals and submitted diagrams of various types of windows.  In February 1955, the committee selected the firm of J. Wippell and Co. LTD of Exeter, England, a firm which had been making and installing glass since 1789.  Their representation in the United States was George L. Payne of Paterson, NJ.  For the last few windows, Fred C. Weeks of Paterson represented the company.

Arthur Erridge of England was the artist who made the overall design; after his death, artists who had worked with him finished the last two windows.  A preliminary sketch was sent for the church’s approval, and then a cartoon – a scale design.  An expert of the New Jersey company installed the windows.

The subjects chosen for the ten windows were events in the life of Jesus Christ.  On the left, facing the altar, the story begins with the Nativity and ends with the Resurrection scene on the right.  Worked into these scenes are many symbols of our Christian faith.  These are placed so that they not only tell a story, but also aid the worshiper as they surround us with beauty and create a reverence within.

All of the windows, except the chancel, have arches.  The top symbols are encircled with garlands of greenery, and the lower symbols are round.  A halo, or nimbus, is used behind the head of a person to denote sanctity.  Only the halo for Christ is marked with a cross in it.  A round halo is most common, but sometimes a triangular halo is used, thus denoting the Trinity.  A square halo refers to living persons.  In this church, the only representation of Christ without a halo is in the Good Shepherd window, and each picture of Christ (except for the nativity and Resurrections) has red on His garments.

The windows were given as memorials, except two that were gifts to the church – one was bought by the church members; the other by Dr. W. W. Elliott and family.  The first window was installed in November, 1962 – about seven years after the church building was completed.  Each window cost around $2500.  The large window over the altar was $3500 and the chapel windows were $1200.  They would cost considerably more to replace today.

Aside from the symbolic reference, windows in general may be said to symbolize the Christian life.  As windows are open to let the warmth and light of the sun in, so the Christian at his best is open to good thoughts, good words, and closed to things that harm, just as a window is closed to wind and rain.

“Windows can be beautiful when they let the sunlight pour through them, so human life can be radiant and rich with Christian grace when the light of Jesus Christ shines through.”

(Copied from the 88th Anniversary Celebration bulletin dated September 12, 1976.)