Windows to the Kingdom

The Windows of St. James

The stained glass windows that surround us on Sunday mornings are, for many people, a meaningful part of the experience of this church, during worship and also during times of quiet reflection. This book includes the primary windows, three along each side of the nave, one high above the main entry doors, a large tableau window at each end of the transept, and the three windows over the altar. These all participate, in vivid color and intricate detail, in the telling of stories about the life of Jesus. The language of visual art often expresses truths differently than the language of words. Through patient attention to the images, our understanding of the underlying truths is expanded.

The much-beloved windows over the altar have a different feeling from all the rest. They are of a style called Art Nouveau, which was contemporary with the period when our church was built, in 1895. These three windows were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany of New York, and installed at Easter, 1910. The rest of the windows are designed in the Gothic Revival style, which is also the style of the church architecture of St. James.

The pointed shape of each window is called a lancet, which corresponds to the space left by the pointed arch, for which this style is well known. The pictorial windows of the Gothic era present lifelike images of people, with lots of rich textural detail. The nature of the picturing, however, is highly stylized; they were not meant to copy the familiar world exactly, but instead to present a world full of symbols and messages that reward our attention endlessly. The Tiffany windows are also strongly recognizable images, but have a more fluid, mythical quality. Their garden landscape is even more unfamiliar to us as a place setting, though we feel at home. Its gentle, mysterious light is designed to draw us into the picture.

The Gothic revival windows were designed by the Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis, and installed in 1948 in a church building which had, for its first 50+ years, had windows made of tiny diamond-shaped panes of clear golden glass. For many years, the Tiffany windows were the only pictorial windows in the church. Today we experience the images of all these windows as integral to the experience of St. James.

The Gothic windows were designed together, and they are meant to be seen together. They portray important and revealing moments about Jesus, typically quiet moments, and together they weave a larger portrait. The Tiffany windows use more subdued colors, and use different means of making symbols; and yet they too capture a vision of an excerpt of the Jesus story which harmonizes with the rest. Their tone contributes a quiet, meditative quality to our worship space.

As you visit with each of the windows, consider its relationship to the others, just as each separate story from scriptures contributes its ‘wisdom to a larger sense of Jesus’ earthly mission. These windows capture the spirit of that mission with images of extraordinary beauty and power.

Regarding the Original Publication:

Windows to the Kingdom was originally published in 1995 as an historical coloring book with pen-and-ink drawings of the windows in the nave and chancel of the church. Here is the introduction to that original publication:

Much of what Jesus taught concerned the Kingdom of God: what it is like, where we should search, how we should live in order that the Kingdom be realized. The Kingdom is close at hand, and yet it is elusive. The parables are full of metaphorical images of the Kingdom: mustard seed, wedding feast, vineyard, and many more. Images are powerful places to reflect, and to organize our inner lives. No images could be more appropriate to invoke a sense of what the Kingdom is, and a sense of wonder about what it could be, than images of the life of Jesus. We reflect on them, experience them with our own eyes, and gradually come to a closer understanding of ourselves, and how we, too, are in the picture.

These drawings of the stained glass windows of St. James Church are presented as an unfolding of the story of Jesus, in narrative sequence. Each window is accompanied by a small location map to direct you to it, as well as a brief passage from scriptures concerning the story of that window. Each also has a brief explanatory text. Please feel free to sit quietly in the church and reflect on the windows as you explore this book. Color these drawings with the colors of your own inner experience, and of the special qualities of daylight that enliven the church. Color them with crayons, markers, art pencils, and most especially, with love, as Christ loved us.

All scriptural passages are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the bible. This project reflects the contributions of:

  • photography: Fred Frey
  • text: Lynn Schlossberger
  • graphic renderings: Jo Craddock
  • inspiration: Holy Spirit

We dedicate this book to Stacey Gerhart, in recognition of her great gifts and boundless energy, and in gratitude for her ministry as Director of Christian Education at St. James Church. We will miss her, and wish her Godspeed. —Lent, 1995

 

Memorial Index

The windows in the church are dedicated to the Glory of God, and in loving memory of the following:

  • The Nativity - the deceased children of the church
  • Teaching in the Synagogue - Warren Russell Lobdell, Selser Robert Harmanson III
  • Baptism in the Jordan River -Annie Fuqua Boyd, Thomas Duckett Boyd
  • Healing the Sick - William Preston Barnes III
  • The Good Shepherd - Lelia Taylor Laycock, Susie Hamilton Bienvenu
  • The Transfiguration - Maria Louisa Beavin Wall
  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem - members of the church who lost their lives in World War II: William Preston Barnes III • John Cameron Miller Jr. • William Bryan Growson III • James Leonard Powell • Harry Peck Dugas • Henry Wallace Stopher Jr. • Albert Phillips Dyer • Joseph Thomas Howell Laycock • John Morton Henderson • Ernest George Venner • Compton Rust Hummell Jr.
  • Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane - Thomas Wilson Atkinson
  • Angel of the Resurrection - Eleanor Garig Connell, Elvira D. Garig
  • The Ascension - Dr. & Mrs. Lester Williams