Holy Trinity's Stained Glass Windows
Years ago, when Holy Trinity first built its present building in the 1950’s, there was little money for stained glass windows. The windows which illuminate our sanctuary today, in fact, were not installed until nearly thirty years later. Church records indicate that the design, development and location of each window was overseen by a committee of the following members:
- Charles Reinl
- Richard Cox
- Avis Breivogel
- Janet Hausch
- William Meister
- Bud Parker
- Lorraine Witlowski
- Elfriede Reitinger
- Woodford Ochs
- Charles Geiger
- Pastor Anton R. Thumhart
A booklet of daily devotions based on Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s stained glass windows written by Pastor Thumhart. and issued at the Dedication of the Windows and other Memorials held on December 4, 1983. We have tried to preserve the original, in form and style, out of respect for the work that was done at that time. Scripture verses cited are from the King James (Authorized) version of the Bible, consistent with the original document.
“Our windows were installed into custom-made anodized bronzed-aluminum frames with screens at the openings. There are sheets of ‘lexan’ (bullet-proof plastic) on the outside to protect the glass and to act as double-hung storm windows. There are steel supporting rods which hold the lead and glass in the form of pictures, but they are not readily visible since they have been incorporated into the shapes of the glass. All the glass is imported, and chosen by the artist and committee to enhance the predominantly red color scheme of our church. The style of art that our artist was directed to employ is called `realistic’ or `depictive,’ that is, you know what you are seeing when you look at the scenes …they are not just surrealistic burst of color and pattern. The technique of assembling and setting the glass are highly modern. All pieces of glass were cut and bedded in silicone putty sealer. The windows were cut, assembled and prepared in the artist’s studio in the Pocono Mountains in northeast Pennsylvania and were transported, one at a time on the roof of his small station wagon. With modern metal moldings each was installed in its frame within a matter of minutes!”
“The major element of symbolism used in each window is also interesting. Rather than using the traditional method of placing a halo around our Lord’s head in each window to depict his Divinity, the committee instead chose to have Jesus depicted as being surrounded by a `nimbus,’ a halo of light surrounding His entire person. His Divine power is illustrated by the image of a hand (always placed at the altar side of each window.)
The hand is the symbol of The Hand of God, giving to Jesus His Godly powers.. One interesting debate that went on in the committee for almost four sessions was a discussion of which side Jesus’ hair should be parted. The committee at last decided to show His hair parted in the middle”
“The artist has called the figures of persons in the group scenes his ‘rainbow people,’ since each figure is dressed in a different color robe or cloak. He always shows our Lord with a red cloak or robe or scarf to indicate Jesus as our sacrifice. All images of hands in the window, both The Hand of God and the hands of the Lord and other figures are models of the artist’s own hands. All such details are hard-fired glass. They were painted on glass with a special flat-black matte finish and fired in a kiln. The matte becomes molten glass and is fused to the piece on which it has been painted. Thus, there is no worry that the features in the windows will wear off or fade away…they are all glass!”
“…While we rejoice in the present beauty and glory of our windows, we also use them to remind us of the faith and faithfulness of the members who gave them and of their love for those memorialized or honored by each window. We trust that the windows will preach to you of a Lord, who like you loved and enjoyed the sea and seashore. As Dr. Luther himself might say, ‘All these things are, SOLI DE O GLORIA, to the glory of God, alone.’ ”
The Original Windows
Each of the original Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s stained glass windows was dedicated by a member or family as a memorial, as listed below:
“0 Man of Little Faith,” donated by Daisy Sherman in memory of her husband, Woodrow Wilson Sherman.
“Take Heart, It is I,” donated by the Wheeler and Spreat families, in their honor.
“Children, Have You Any Fish?” donated by Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Konnor, in memory of their parents.
“Have a Boat Ready,” donated by family and friends of Lucy and Joe Graf, in her memory and his honor.
“He Who Has Ears to Hear,” donated by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Beilin, in memory of her parents, Auguste and Herman Stockhoff.
“Even the Wind and Waves Obey Him,” donated by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Ziegler in memory of their loved ones.
“Let Down Your Nets for a Catch,” donated by Mr. and Mrs. George Mower, in memory of his mother.
“Follow Me,” donated by Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Christ, in memory of their loved ones.
As the resources and needs of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church changed over time, several windows were added to the original eight dedicated in 1983. The additions to the sanctuary remained in line with the “shore theme” while the single window placed within the columbarium inside Holy Trinity’s front door portrays a loving shepherd with his flock.
They are as follows:
“Behold, the Lamb of God,” donated in loving memory of Edward R. Hirsekom.
“Jesus Savior Pilot Me Over Life’s Tempestuous Sea,” donated by Captain Robert R. Yates and Debora C. Whitcraft-Yates.
“Communion Chalice,” (located above one of two exit doors on the church’s south side), donated in memory of Anna M. and Frederick J. Junkerman by Fred and Margaret R. Junkerman.
“Baptismal Shell,” (located above one of two exit doors on the church’s south side), donated in memory of Ann M. and Frederick Rauser by Fred and Margaret R. Junkerman.
“Shepherd and His Sheep,” (located in the church’s columbarium), donated in memory of Charlotte G. Smullen and Edwin G. Johnson, 1987.
Jesus’ Life in Pictures
The following pages both illustrate and provide a brief commentary for each window. Additionally, pages are sequenced to present a pictorial “glimpse” of Jesus’ ministry from the time of His baptism to after His resurrection. (Note, each scene taken from the Sanctuary occurred either on or near the sea!)
“Behold, the Lamb of God” portrays Jesus’ baptism and depicts the beginning of His ministry.
“Follow Me” describes Jesus’ calling of Simon, Andrew, James and John to partner in His ministry.
“Take Heart”, “Why Did you Doubt”, “Let Down Your Nets”, and “Even the winds and Waves Obey Him”, illustrate his affirmation of the disciples’ human emotions of fear, doubt and discouragement, and speak to their ability to trust in Him for all their needs.
“Have a Boat Ready” and “He Who Has Ears to Hear” demonstrates various aspects of His teaching.
“Children Have You Any Fish?” tells of Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples after His resurrection.
Finally, “Jesus, Pilot Me,” “The Shepherd and His Flock,” the “Baptismal Shell” and “Communion Chalice” reflect poignant aspects of our relationship with God,
“Behold the Lamb of God”
(In loving memory of Edward R. Hirsekorn.)
This window poignantly depicts the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry! Whereas baptism has been previously performed by prophets, John the Baptist was baptizing at Bethany, a village east of the Jordan River. Some priests and Levites who had been sent by the Jews of Jerusalem asked him who he was and challenged, “What right do you have to baptize if you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John replied, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not know, who will soon begin His ministry. I am not even worthy to be His slave.”
The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What does this mean to us? In Old Testament times lambs were offered as sacrifices when a person sinned. By calling Jesus the “Lamb of God,” John meant He would die as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
While this window reflects of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, it also reminds us of God’s abundant love. Jesus was sent to earth so that, cleansed of our sin, we might live with God forever!
“Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men”
(Donated in memory of loved ones by Honey and Garrett Christ.)
This passage describes the time when Jesus called four fisherman, Simon and Andrew, James and John, to be among His disciples, saying, “Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They were neither famous nor wealthy, but rather were rather ordinary people who would eventually partner with Him in His ministry.
We, too, have been called to partner with Him in His ministry. He has called us to make the choice to follow Him and, by so doing, participate in a fuller life through prayer, worship, fellowship and ministry in our community.
How can we serve? Some of us work with our hands and voices while others introduce those around them to God through the ways in which they listen, comfort or demonstrate peace and strength in the midst of difficult times. Whatever our talents may be, we can use them to serve God by ministering to others. We, too, can become, “fishers of men.”
“Take Heart, It is I”
(In honor of the Hannah Wheeler and Doreen Spreat Families)
The text from which this window was created tells of the time when the disciples, at sea just before dawn and in the midst of a storm, were frightened by what they thought was an apparition walking on water. Not knowing the figure coming towards them was Jesus, they were troubled and cried out in fear.
As Jesus came closer, however, he calmed their fears saying, “Take heart, it is I” Have you ever experienced fear during a “fourth watch” (between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.) as well? And has Jesus come to you then too, as He had the disciples?
One of the first things we must learn as infants is to trust others. Jesus’ walking on water convinced the disciples that He was truly the Son of God and that they could trust their lives in Him. Our “contrary winds” may bring us upsetments and challenges, but these experiences can also lead us to a fuller, more trusting relationship with God. We, too, can count on Jesus coming to us and bringing us strength and comfort, not only during the loneliness of our “fourth watches,” but throughout the entire day!
Man of Little Faith, Why Did You Doubt?”
(Donated in loving memory of Woodrow Wilson Sherman by his wife Daisy.)
“Take Heart, It is 1,” describes the dialogue that occurred between Peter and James after our Lord had calmed the disciples’ fears in the storm announcing it had been He walking towards them on water, not a ghost.
The text describes that after Jesus spoke, “Take heart, it is I,” Peter answered impulsively, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Beckoned, Peter than began to walk on the water towards Jesus, only to begin sinking and to be frightened further by the “boisterous winds.”
At that point, Jesus stretched forth His hand and said, “0 man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Isn’t it fitting that this window, depicting both trust in its fullest and most fragile sense, is positioned by the altar rail? Kneeling at the altar rail, our faith in Jesus can be total and complete. By trusting in His power we can meet the challenges within our daily lives with confidence and security. And by trusting in His presence, we can find an inner peace capable of riding even the most “boisterous winds?’
“Let Down Your Nets for a Catch”
(Donated in memory of loved ones by George and Martha Mower)
This window speaks to Jesus’ calling of Simon, James and John as they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee. It describes when Simon, tired from having fished all night, doubted Jesus’ intentions to, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught,” only to find his nets so abundant with fish they broke!
Like Simon, have you ever doubted there would be “enough” (i.e. money, opportunity, courage), only to pray about your fears and to be blessed by God’s abundant grace? As God responded to Simon, He wishes to bless us with an abundance of joy, peace and love. His response reminds us to accept our limitations, pray in need, and to trust fully in His sovereignty. God has provided, does provide and will continue to provide for our every need!
Do you ever encounter doubt? And do you remember times in your life when God’s living responses quelled your fears or refocused your lives, as He did those of James, John and Simon. This text speaks to us all!
“Even the Winds and the Waves Obey Him”
(Donated in memory of loved ones by Albert and Margaret Ziegler.)
This Bible verse illustrates one of four miracles through which Jesus demonstrated His divine power. Once, after He and the disciples had sent away the multitude who had come to hear Him, a turbulent storm rocked their small fishing vessel with sudden winds. Fearful for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus (who was sleeping in the back of the boat) with the words, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?’
Jesus awoke, rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” The wind ceased and, as the passage continues, there was a great calm. Jesus then turned to the disciples, and spurred them to deeper trust by asking, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”
Have you ever confronted a situation with similar awe and fright? Likewise, have you ever prayed, “Lord, do you not care what is happening here?” This window witnesses to us that there is no storm, conflict or burden Jesus is not able to “still” as He did the waters on the Sea of Galilee. We are His children and He can truly bring us peace!
“Have a Boat Ready”
(In memory of Lucy and in honor of Joseph Graf by family and friends)
In this page Jesus continues to astound others with His divine authority. A great multitude had followed Him from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea and beyond Jordan and had “pressed upon Him” in their zeal to be healed. Jesus spoke to His disciples, instructing them to have a small ship “ready” in the event the multitude should want to throng Him.
Undoubtedly, Jesus recognized some may have followed Him merely because they were “curious” or –thrill-seekers.” Regardless, He knew He needed to be prepared, ready to teach those who were wishing to make a personal commitment to God.
Like Jesus, have you ever stepped back, either to reassess a situation, seek safety or to discern more carefully what is truly important to God? And as Jesus’ disciples listened to Him and prepared the boat in the event He might need some “breathing room” from the crowd, in what ways do YOU listen for God’s voice to discern what He would want you to do, then act?
“He Who Has Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear”
(To honor the memory of August and Herman Stockhoff by Lillian and Harold Beilin.)
This text speaks of Jesus extending his influence though his teaching. Again, a “great multitude” had come to hear him, so many in fact that he chose to “enter a ship” and, using the boat as his pulpit, taught from the boat to the crowd standing on land.
The Bible describes how on this occasion Jesus taught the crowd many things by parables, brief stories that frequently use illustrations from everyday life to teach spiritual truth. The text recorded in this passage relates the parable of the sower and contrasts the seeds which “fell by the wayside,” devoured by “fowls of the air,” “scorched,” and “choked by weeds” with those which fell on good ground and “yielded fruit.”
How fitting that Jesus ends his parable with the words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Placed at the front of the sanctuary, this window calls us to use OUR ears to hear the Word of God through worship. It reminds us as well to strengthen our personal walk with God through the “good ground” provided by prayer and fellowship with other believers. In this way, we too may be as seeds prospering in and through discipleship!
“Children, Have You Any Fish?”
(Donated by Jeff and Joan Konnor, in honor of their parents.)
This window could very well be entitled, “Breakfast at the Seashore.” It depicts Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples after the Resurrection after they had returned from Jerusalem to their boats and nets.
The image portrays how after having fished all night without catching a single fish, Jesus appeared to His disciples and learning of their plight, instructed them to, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship and ye shall find.” Though tired and discouraged, the disciples cast their nets Once more and, in contrast to their efforts the entire night before, caught a multitude of fish!
Later, as the disciples returned to shore, Jesus invited them to “come and dine,” then shared breakfast.
In this humble daily routine, the disciples once again communed with Jesus. How might we, too, commune with our Lord as we engage in the common tasks of daily living? Certainly, we need not wait upon extraordinary events to meet Jesus. Not only is He among us when we worship, He is also among us as we assume even the simplest of routines of everyday living! He wants us to share our days with Him. Take time to feel His presence!
“Jesus Savior Pilot Me Over Life’s Tempestuous Sea”
(Donated by Captain Robert R. Yates and Debora C. Whitcraft Yates.)
The inspiration for this window comes from a well-loved hymn known as ‘The Sailor’s Hymn.” Written by Edward Hopper, the words for this hymn first appeared in The Sailor’s Magazine (1871) and reflected Hopper’s ministry at the Church of the Sea and Land in New York City, where he met sailors from around the world.
The text is based on Mark 4:39, “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’
And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” It speaks directly to the sovereignty of Cod amidst the challenges we face in our daily walk and reminds us visually of His power to help us “weather every storm.” The hymn begins with:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea; Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from thee,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.” (Hopper, 1871)
As you stand before the window, take comfort in knowing the Church sails unharmed through all perils. In fact, the word, “nave,” (which refers to the large section of the sanctuary in which we sit) comes from the Latin word for “ship.”
“The Communion Chalice”
(Donated in loving memory of Anna M. and Frederick I. Junkerman by Fred and Margaret R. Junkerman.)
Nestled among waves we find the traditional symbol for communion, the chalice. This cup reminds us of the great gift of life Jesus gave us on the cross and helps us remember that the life we’ve received came at the cost of His blood.
Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Through communion our sense of His nearness returns and we are reminded it is not we who have chosen Him, but rather He who has chosen us!
“The Baptismal Shell”
Donated in loving memory of Anna M. and Frederick Rauser by Margaret R. and Fred J. Junkerman,)
Again, pictured against the backdrop of waves, the escallop shell with drops of water symbolizes the sacrament of baptism. Baptism is a symbol of new life and water, a pure and powerful God-given form, depicts our cleansing and immersion into God’s life through Jesus Christ. Rejoice, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” (I Cor. 12:13)
While no one is certain, ancient illustrations depict John the Baptist using a shell to baptize our Lord.
“A Shepherd and His Flock”
(Donated in memory of Charlotte G. Smullen and Edwina Johnson, 19V.)
The Bible frequently includes the words, “sheep,” “shepherd” and “flock” to describe God’s chosen people. Jesus clearly refers to this in John 10:14, saying, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Be assured, He was intimately aware of how precious the sheep were to His Father!
As the shepherd would guide his flock to pasture and water, provide for them, and tend to their wounds, Jesus provides for our every need. If, like sheep, we wander from the flock, place ourselves in dangerous situations, or even graze beyond the Father’s boundaries, our Shepherd is there to lead us back to the fold. And as sheep recognize and attend only to the familiar voice of their shepherd, we, too, can hear His voice stand out among others also beckoning to us…if we listen.
The flock depends on its shepherd for all its needs. David, who was a shepherd before being a King, was all too familiar with the relationship between a shepherd and his flock when he wrote the beloved 23rd Psalm. Truly, he understood the profound reality in, “The Lord is my (our) shepherd. I (We) shall not want.”
“A Final Thought”
As members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church we are truly blessed to be able to worship amid windows of such striking beauty. Through each we are reminded our Lord loved the shore, enjoyed fellowship, ministered to the same needs and emotions we experience in today’s world (doubt, fear, hunger, frustration, fatigue, to name a few!) and, as seen in His disciples, has chosen everyday people like us to be among his flock.
As you enter the columbarium and sanctuary in the future, may the scenes from the Bible not only draw you to a deeper understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus, but also encourage you to seek always the “hand of God…for He careth for you” (I Peter 5:6,7) in your own lives. Our heavenly Father has blessed us beyond measure. He desires more than anything else to extend His grace not only through worship, prayer, and study of His Word, but also through fellowship we have among one another, not only here at Holy Trinity but also within the community.
Initially, stained glass windows in the early Church were intended to share visually the story of our Lord. Today, as you gaze upon Holy Trinity’s windows, allow their artistry and history to speak to you as well. Connect with the committee members, donators and craftsmen who made them possible. Most importantly, however, be reminded that their story tells us again and again of the abundant life offered to us through Jesus Christ.