You can now sit in the sanctuary at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Princeton and take in many stories of the Bible by looking at windows around you.
What use to be 14 clear glass windows at the church are now stained glass panels. Each of the stained glass panels tells a story from the Bible. As you face the altar, the six panels on the left tell stories from the Old Testament. Seven panels on the right depict happenings in the New Testament.
The first Old Testament panel, for example, shows Adam and Eve in the garden, with Eve presenting an apple to Adam as a snake looks on. The other old testament panels are of God making a covenant with Abraham, Moses with the tablet of the Ten Commandments, Ruth learning about the living God from Naomi, David about to slay Goliath and a chariot of fire carrying the prophet Elijah to heaven.
The New Testament series of stained glass panels starts with Mary and Joseph looking upon the newborn Jesus in the manger, and then goes to the baptism of Jesus, Jesus and the children, the Lord’s Supper, the crucifixion of Christ, his resurrection, and then Jesus converting Saul to become the Apostle Paul.
A 14th stained glass window sits high above the altar. It depicts a cross and is meant to be the focal point of all the stained glass windows and symbolizes the church. It is a “reminder of the love of God and the sacrifices Christ made for us,” states a church brochure describing the windows.
The project began with church members looking at the church memorial fund and discussing what should be done with it. It led to a decision of using the fund for the stained glass project. Stonehouse Stained Glass Studio, in Avon, was hired to do the job.
A committee of 11, headed by co-chairs Pat Gustafson and Bob Lundell, oversaw the project. The studio’s artist, Paul Jensen, collaborated with the committee on drawing the images to be done. Gustafson said the committee and Stonehouse would go back and forth on each image until the committee was agreeable. Jensen did the drawings and it was Stonehouse’s artist, Marty Stone, who did stained glass window construction.
The project involved about 1,200 hours of work and produced 187 square feet of stained glass. The project was completed in August this year, according to Gustafson, and the church dedicated the stained glass during its regular service last Sunday morning. The church’s Sunday service normally draws about 225 attendees, but 325 turned out this Sunday.
Mike Soppeland, church pastor, called the stained glass windows “beautiful.”
Gustafson said one of the most unique of the stained glass windows is the one on the south wall depicting Christ on the road to Damascus appointing Saul to be the Apostle Paul to carry Christ’s name to the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel.
Saul had been persecuting the Christians before Christ changed Saul’s life. What is unique about the window is that the Christ figure, rather than being formed by pieces of stained glass, is etched into the clear pieces on the panel. The Christ figure goes from being hardly visible to more visible according to the light coming through, Gustafson noted.
It was just a few years ago that Immanuel Lutheran constructed an addition that became the church’s new sanctuary, and that is where the stained glass windows are featured.
“I think the church is absolutely enhanced by the stained glass windows,” Gustafson said. “It’s really such a warm feeling with the stained glass.”
The stained glass actually solves a problem the sanctuary had before: The sunlight, at a certain point, was coming too strong through one or more of the windows, Gustafson pointed out.
The committee decided that instead of just having decorative stained glass windows, it wanted them to tell stories. The timeline begins at the very bottom window on the left side of the altar and goes to the right and upward. The windows increasingly sit at higher elevations in following the slanted roof line on the addition.
Gustafson, recalling the committee’s impression of the stained glass windows, said: “We were so impressed with them (the Stonehouse Stained Glass Studio artists and the windows). We truly liked them. I just think we are so blessed with windows of that quality in our church. A lot of churches can’t afford that.”
The stained glass windows are meant to be here for hundreds of years and the church “needed to spread a message of salvation” with them, Gustafson.