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The Church Windows
by Marilyn Clements
 

As early as 1957 it was becoming obvious that the sanctuary of Denison First United Methodist Church, built in 1887, was deteriorating. Possibly an insignificant factor was the design and upkeep of the original stained glass windows. Their beauty added meaning to the frame style building. At this time, congregations were becoming more energy conscious and the single pane windows allowed much heat loss. Their age and quality were susceptible to damage, either from natural causes (hail and wind) or from vandalism (BB guns and rocks). Repair of such delicate creations required the services of craftsmen, usually from a distance and at considerable expense.

The windows, a major decorative item in the sanctuary, were designed especially for this church. After consultation with the building committee, the windows were designed by Miss Delores Veth of St. Louis, Missouri, for the Conrade Schmitt Studios, Inc. of New Berlin, Wisconsin. They are constructed of brick, faceted, colored glass, cast in epoxy, and approximately 4 inches thick. The only anticipated damage would have to come from a high powered rifle or weapon. Each window is separate in design and each carries a background of crosses. In choice of colors and shadings, each window is designed with pastel shaded glass at their "extremities" with the colors becoming more intense as they reach the center of each window, and its message.

As once enters the sanctuary, note the first window to the left. The focus is "Faith", the reason congregation members attend this church. The symbolism is a boat and the message "Do Not Despair", indicating strength through faith. The adjacent window's focus is "Joy", indicating the mental feelings of members with strong faith. The yellow rays are indicative of the glowing radiance of a joyful person. The message is "Let Yourself Be." 

The focus of the third window is "Love" the inevitable emotion felt by joyful persons experience a strong faith. the symbolic candle flames are intended to indicate the existence of loving persons and the glow they radiate to others. "We Care" is expressed by faithful, joyful, loving Christians. Persons sharing these qualities need a place for "Worship" depicted in the adjoining window. The abundance of intensely colored glass surrounding this message is symbolical of the warm feelings experienced by worshippers in this sanctuary. For this, they "Give Thanks to the Lord."

Moving to the right side of the altar, the window messages continue. Closest to the organ and choir, the focus of the window is "Praise to God." One of the strengths of this congregation is their emphasis on music. The treble clef symbol indicates this, along with the message, "Sing Out." Adjacent to this window is the message of "Life." The green leaves symbolize living things. It is hoped that all human beings can experience a faith and it's qualities during their life. No one should be excluded from this congregation and should know "You Are Unique in the World."

God did not promise that everyone's life would be easy and without incident. A strong faith should provide "Hope" during all circumstances. Hope is a source of security, symbolized by the anchor in the window and reminding members to "Take Courage." Members of this congregation having experienced a strong faith, joy, love, worshiping, and praising God, experiencing hope will eventually be at "Peace", having lived in "Harmony with God." Of course, the symbol of peace is the dove.

One cannot spend time in this sanctuary without receiving the message supplied by these windows, absolutely unique to this church and its congregation.

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