Windows unto faithThe windows of Concordia Lutheran Church are clearly beautiful. But the stained glass panes surround the church with more than color. The panels are packed with important moments of the Lord’s life. In addition, they are dotted with dozens of religious symbols.
The windows of Concordia Lutheran Church are clearly beautiful. But the stained glass panes surround the church with more than color. The panels are packed with important moments of the Lord’s life. In addition, they are dotted with dozens of religious symbols.
“Each one is a message,” said pastoral lay assistant Gary Banker. Like the church itself, he said, the windows were created “for the glory of the Lord.”
A new book, “Windows of Concordia,” provides details on each of the 82-year-old works of art, along with photos taken by church member Roger LePage.
“I was simply amazed how much was there,” said Patricia Luder, who completed the book. The artist, Thomas J. Gaytee, embedded volumes of meaning into each pane. Looking through the windows can be an educating experience.
“When I started studying it, I couldn’t get over how much I got out of it,” Luder said.
Three authors had a hand in the making of “Windows of Concordia.” The work was started by the late Jean Sword, then taken up by the late Barbara Jean Larson, before Luder completed it.
“I watched the hours these women put in,” Banker said. “It was truly a labor of love.”
Luder said the idea for the book started when local churches were featured on television. Sword noticed that inch for inch Concordia’s windows held more of the life of Christ than those of most other churches.
“They told so much about the really important parts of the Lord’s life,” Luder said.
Another big reason for the book was to make people who worship there aware of what the windows mean. Even Banker, who has looked at them for years, was surprised at how much was contained in the colorful glass.
“They’re not just pretty, it’s a statement of faith,” he said.
Over the past year, Luder has researched the symbols and scenes. One in particular, a beehive symbol atop the window in the north upper nave, became her nemesis. Banker recalled Luder asking him and other parishioners to help search for its meaning. She eventually found that the beehive symbolizes eloquence. According to the book, the beehive was given as an attribute of both St. Bernard of Clairaux and St. Ambrose because their eloquence was as “sweet as honey.”
Once the hours of research and photography were done, sponsors were sought to pay for printing 200 books. Five local businesses and a couple stepped up to help. Luder said one business owner told her he originally thought the project foolish. When he got the finished product, however, he thought it was fantastic. LePage’s beautiful photos are one of the reasons the book has gotten such a warm response, Luder said.
More than half the books are gone already.
“I know I’ve sent books to former pastors,” Luder said. “It’s been greatly received by them.”
Former and current church members, and people interested in religious history may be interested in the books, which sell for $10. All the proceeds are earmarked for the church’s heritage committee, of which Luder is a member. The group that began in 1998 keeps files on church history and has put up photographs of pastors and church veterans, including 350 World War II veterans from the congregation.
Copies of “Windows of Concordia” are available 8 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays in the church office, 1708 John Ave. Anyone interested in purchasing a book can also email email@example.com or call 715-394-3762.