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The Stained Glass of St. Luke's and Faith United Methodist Churches

I am excited to start a new blog series on the stained glass windows that are in the sanctuaries and adjacent rooms in St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Craigsville, WV and in Faith United Methodist Church in Richwood, WV.

As we have been stuck outside of our buildings during this pandemic, I invite you back inside through this blog as we explore the beauty and inspiration of this beautiful collection of stained glass.

I would like to begin this journey by sharing some general information on the initial purpose of installing stained glass windows in churches and then also some basic understanding of colors and placement of the glass.

The purpose of windows in general is to let light in, and let those who are inside have a view of the outside. The purpose of "stained glass," however, is a bit different. Stained glass is still to allow light in, beautify the space they surround, and most importantly tell a story, especially in societies where the vast majority of people were illiterate. This was an effective way for anyone to experience the story of their faith without words. For us today as we sit in our beautifully adorned sanctuaries, we realize that the the story of our faith surrounds us and floods into our worship with colored light. This helps to connect our current faith journey with all those who have come before us and those who are yet to come.

Stained glass has been found in beads and fragments from as far back as ancient Egyptian times. The windows that we know of today are a very old art as well. They first appeared in wealthy Roman homes in the early first century. There have been stained glass windows found in early palaces and mosques in the Middle East. Some of the earliest stained glass window that has been found was in the St. Paul's Monastery in Jarrow, England and dates back to 686 AD. The window pictured below was reconstructed from fragments found in the ruins.

The earliest stained glass window showing a picture was found in Lorsch, Germany. It was originally constructed in the 10th century and reconstructed in the early 1990's as part of a UNICEF project after unearthing it from ruins.

Today, we are used to seeing pictures in stained glass windows. Some of these are are made by using a special type of paint and some are made by cutting and piecing glass together to make a picture in a mosaic style. The stained glass windows at St. Luke's and Faith United Methodist Churches are a mix of these two styles.

The colors of glass used have special meaning and purpose many times in the windows. The following is a list of some of the meanings prescribed to different colors of glass.

Red: Represents the blood of Christ or the martyrdom of saints. It can also indicate strong emotions such as love or hate.

Blue: Is associated with the color of the sky and therefore symbolizes heaven, hope, sincerity, and piety–like the Virgin Mary.

Green: Is the color of grass and nature and therefore represents growth and rebirth, life over death.

Violet: A bold color symbolizing love, truth, passion, and suffering.

White: Is a representation of chastity, innocence, and purity is often associated with God.

Black: A very rarely seen color in stained glass on churches it has connotations of both death and regeneration.

Yellow: The color most used in depictions of Judas so it sometimes symbolizes treachery but is also used in the halo of saints, or the Gates of Heaven and to symbolize divinity, power, and glory.

Purple: Since it is thought that Christ wore purple before His crucifixion the color often symbolizes suffering and endurance. Purple is also used to depict royalty or God the Father.

Gray: This color or hue is a symbol of humility and mourning and can also be seen representing the immortality of the spirit.

Brown: Used as a symbol of spiritual death and renunciation of worldly things.

Rainbow: A happy depiction of the union and God’s covenant with humanity.

There will be a new window highlighted each week day for the next month and I hope that you will come back daily and see what is new. These windows are beautiful and I hope that they inspire you to draw close to God and stir in you emotions and thoughts of God and all that he has done and is doing in your life.

I believe this will be a great journey full of color and light! I hope it is truly a gift from God as is has been for me as pastor of these two churches!

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