Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Windows AND My Soul

This is the cornerstone of my hometown church.


The church buildings are filled with windows.The eyes may be “the windows of your soul,” but these windows have seen the development of my soul.


These windows on the sides of the sanctuary are huge and are of stained glass with  protective windows on the outside.


100_1941 In the photos below, you can get an idea of the beauty of the these windows from the inside.



Of course with stained glass, it is all about the light and how it deepens or fades the colors.



Installed in 1925, the windows are memorials to family members by church members, .


This loved one had died in 1914.


This window is in the door in the narthex.

Through the narthex door

The rose window is over the altar.


Those last two windows were not original to the 1925 building.

These windows below are in the Sunday school rooms in the back of the church sanctuary. There is nothing special about the way they look. However, the first time I ever went in a church, I stayed as a newborn in the nursery inside one of those rooms-- more than half a century ago.


Windows have been added through the years as new additions were made to accommodate the elevator and new social hall. 100_1939


This is the place where I learned the words of my faith in the form of prayers, creeds, hymns and scripture. I learned the history of our denomination as well as some of the history of the Church, with a capital “C”. I learned the actions of faith, including praise and service. Eventually, it was where I came to know my faith as a personal commitment. I was baptized and officially joined that congregation as a teen.  My sister was married in that church. Most members of our family have sung in the choir and served on committees, including the church council and trustees and women’s organizations and youth groups. I tell this not to brag, but rather to show how much a part of our lives this church has been. This church has certainly been more than a building to us.

I grew up and moved away and attend my own church now but my parents have remained members for over 55 years. Whenever I have brought my own family “home” we have usually attended services there. This alone spans over 30 years.

In the past decade, this church has been sent a sad series of ministers that rather than uplifting the congregation, divided it in a number of ways and ran off members who were good, hard-working, active participants. Attendance declined. As with most churches in the area, the annual influx and exit of the winter residents has an impact. This is not new and churches learn to accommodate it. All that church needed to recover was a good minister who was guided by the Holy Spirit. My family refused to leave….until now.

When I took these pictures, this sign was tacked to the front door.


The District office made the decision that the church should join with the Davenport one and that both would go together to build a new church up on the busy highway. A minister was sent to lobby hard for this. Finally, it was put to a vote on a Saturday morning with no absentee ballots permitted. It passed by less than a handful of votes by each church. As of that vote, our church ceased to exist.

Our family is heartbroken.  We struggle not to be bitter.

Until my mother fell and broke her leg, she and my brother had been visiting other churches of the same denomination in the area. I went with them the first Sunday;  one of the things we all noticed about the building was the complete lack of windows. It was surprising how claustrophobic it felt.

Matthew 6:6  American King James Version says:
But you, when you pray, enter into your closet…

Maybe they took that literally there.


I am confident that our souls will be fine, thanks to God’s grace,


what will become of our beautiful windows?


Anonymous said...

I love the windows. I hope the church gets used by another congregation so it stays intact.

dan conrad said...

Thank you for the memories. Charles and Helen Conrad memorial services were held there, Jean and I were married there. Many wonderful occasions.

Dan Conrad

S N B said...

For the record, there have been more responses to this entry than probably any other, but they have come in the form of emails. All have echoed the sentiments here. I appreciate each comment.

Ava said...

What a beautiful and sad story. I am so sorry this happened to your family. I too hope that it gets used by another congregation so that they can enjoy the beauty that you have shown us.

This time of down sizing is not enjoyable.

nancy price said...

Tom and I were not aware of what was happening in Haines City at all. What a big surprise it is to both of us. I thought when the fellowship hall was added that things were going great. It is a heart beaker. I pray the church will be used to the glory of God. The stained glass windows are a treasure.
Nancy Price