This stained glass windows of First United Methodist Church of Allen are a iconic collection of vividly colorful windows that tell the story of the Christian faith and express a profound desire by this congregation to live as faithful disciples of Christ Jesus. They were commissioned and installed as an act of love and appreciation for the beauty of this sanctuary.
We hope that those who visit our sanctuary can take the opportunity to enjoy the changing nuances of these windows at different times of the day. Early in the morning, bright patches of color spread across the pews and aisles from upper eastern windows. Throughout the day the windows take on different hues and textures, almost appearing to be alive. Nearing sunset, the Pentecost window radiates the brilliant red fire of God’s Holy Spirit. At night, the starkness of the tomb, illustrated in the window behind the choir loft, takes on an eerie quality.
Worship is certainly enhanced by these unique windows. We thank God for the dedication of the Stained Glass Committee, whose prayerful work spread across nearly three years in the early 1990s; for the many gifts of Scott Richardson, the talented artist who created these windows, and for the two stained glass artisans who assembled the glass with love and care. Susan Bates designed the We are His People, The Trinity, and Victory windows. Christina Forte of Forte In Glass of Plano, Texas created the remaining glass.
The names of each stained glass window donor can be found in the memorial book located near the south entrance.
Our personal hope is that this page will provide further insights into the symbols of our windows. We invite you to read and study God’s holy scriptures and meditate upon God’s Word. May these windows to draw us closer to our Lord.
The eight We Are His People windows are found in the clerestory, the high section of wall that contains windows above eye level.
High above the chancel area is The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, showing He is one without hierarchy. The three-paneled window above the choir loft is Victory, the Empty Tomb, symbolizing Christ’s victory over death.
The trio of windows to the left and right of the altar celebrate the Christian year. Each of the six windows features the themes and symbols of one season, beginning with Advent at the far eastern window, and concluding with Pentecost at the far western window.
We ARE His People Windows
A committee selected the theme, We Are His People, for the four sets of windows found in the clerestory. These stained glass windows flank each side of the sanctuary. These windows show His people gathered around the cross where Christ died for our sins with the blue background becoming deeper as each set goes toward the rear of the sanctuary.
The people are gathered at the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified. The scene depicts three crosses. Note the light emanating from the center, the Christ cross, to represent salvation and the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. The light pushes back the clouds, representing the struggles of humankind. As the windows near the altar, the clouds are pushed back and the skies brighten, for it is the love and sacrifice of Christ that gives our lives hope and meaning.
Look carefully at the crowds of people. Intentionally, the images represent people of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors because the kingdom of God invites all people. Children are specifically included in the people, signifying the vital responsibility of the church to teach the children the love of and hope in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Victory, the Empty Tomb
The Victory, the Empty Tomb window, the three panels above the choir loft, is named for Christ’s victory over death and evil. The image depicts the empty tomb of Easter morning. Each of the four gospels tell of the empty tomb found by women (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24: 1-11, and John 20:1-10), although the women named differ in each gospel.
Three of the four gospels name two of the women as Mary of Magdala and Mary, the mother of James. The women were greeted by angels and witnessed the empty tomb. Note the burial garments laid upon the stone of the tomb, with the impression of the defeated cross still seen in the garments.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate defining event of Christian faith. Through the love and sacrifice of God through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin and death. Victoriously, Christ breaks the bonds of death and offers life eternal to all who believe in Him.
The Victory Window is given by Richard and Carla Hickman.
Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
The Christian belief in the Trinity–God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–is represented in the windows directly above the altar. The Trinity encompasses the belief in one true God with three expressions: God the Creator, Christ the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit our Sustainer.
Window designer Scott Richards said “the Trinity Window was one of the most challenging windows in the church because the design had to negate the fact that the center window was taller, since Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one without hierarchy between them.”
The purple center represents God the Father, the cross at the center of the purple circle represents God the Son, and the descending doves signify God the Holy Spirit, also illustrated in the Epiphany window. As with the Victory Window, the yellow light may be seen as God’s grace surrounding and covering all people.
Seasons of the Church
The six panels at the front of the chancel area represent the six seasons of the Christian calendar and our journey through life. The Christian calendar comprises six seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost:
- Advent--The foretelling of God’s promise to send His Son into the world
- Christmas–The transformation of the Word made flesh and descending to earth
- Epiphany--Christ’s life on earth
- Lent--The repentance for Christ’s followers concluding with Christ choosing to give His life that we might live
- Easter–The power and hope given the world through Christ illustrated by the empty cross and tomb
- Pentecost–The believers of the gospel sharing the hope of the good news of Christ to the world
Advent means “coming,” and this season of four weeks proclaims the coming of the Christ, whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again.
The top third of the window features three ram’s horns, signifying the prophets of the old testament. Prophets are God’s mouthpieces, proclaiming the messages of God to the world. The intertwining ribbons of color represent the message, hope, and Spirit of God pouring across the land. The sky at top left is “non-sky” or nothing. Only after the colors (message) does the sky have definition.
The middle third highlights two prominent themes from the prophet Isaiah, as he foretold the coming of the Messiah. From the stump of Jesse (King David’s father) will come a shoot, a branch growing. This branch (the Messianic King) will be filled with the spirit of the Lord, portraying wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might. And with the coming of the Lord, the wolf will live with the lamb, and lion and calf will lie down together. This branch, this Messiah, will be girded with righteousness, and bring the Peace of God. (Isaiah 11:1-10)
Notice the stump with deep roots symbolizing the presence of God throughout the history of people, and a lone, living shoot arising from the stump (look at the last window to see this realized). The lion and lamb together express an image of God’s shalom (wholeness and peace).
Dividing the bottom two sections of this panel is a road, or path. The path truly has rugged bumps, yet the prophet Isaiah invites us to walk in his path! (Isaiah 2:1-5)
Below the path appears the rugged earth, with weapons of destruction including spears and shields. Yet the coming of the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, brings forth the hope of God’s complete kingdom when weapons will be transformed into instruments of peace.
God will judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
The Advent window was given in memory of Casey Hamilton by Kathy Hamilton-Hall.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1)
The season of Christmas begins on Christmas Day and continues for twelve days. The Christmas window portrays the glory of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Depicting the birth of Christ in the town of Bethlehem, the light of the star beams over the humble birthplace of a stable. The stable is small and humble in contrast to the power of the city it adjoins. The dark night sky is on an even grid that exudes tranquility and peace, yet vividly pierced with the glory of the heavenly host as angels, the messengers of God, announce to the world:
Do not be afraid, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10)
The ribbons of color, representing the power and life-giving quality of God’s Holy Spirit, lead to the angels. One ribbon of color leaves the scene at the top, as if connected directly to heaven, only to return from the cloud in the next window, the Epiphany window.
The shepherds, representing all the followers of Jesus Christ, continue on a new, smooth path to humbly honor the Lord, glorifying and praising God. Without facial expressions, these shepherds still indicate astonishment, interest, and proclamation upon the announcement from the heavenly host. Excitedly, they are pointing and telling one another of the good news. Perhaps like the Wise Men, these followers were led to Jesus by a star.
Rather than placing Jesus in the stable, this scene focuses on the glory of Christ, with the image placed in the center of the scene, just as we are all called to focus on Christ as the center of our lives. We know this was not just a mere baby that has been born on Christmas Day.
With the birth of Christ, weapons are no longer present on the earth. Rather, the picture radiates peace and glory. The greens of the land are rich and peaceful, and the browns of the earth have left behind the chaos of the previous Lenten scene, and have been replaced with a sense of unity and purpose.
The Christmas window was given in memory of Mike Long by Jo Long.
The day of Epiphany (meaning manifestation) of the Lord is January 6, and is an even more ancient celebration among Christians than Christmas. This window depicts Epiphany and the Season after Epiphany, which includes four to nine Sundays, depending on the date of Easter. The Gospel readings during this season center on stories of the early ministry of Christ Jesus.
Matthew 2:1-12 tells of the bright star over Bethlehem, leading the magi to Jesus. From the ancient town the path continues, leading to the life-giving waters of the Sea of Galilee. The lush, green land provides growth and new life, symbolized by the palm trees at the lakeshore. The water is deep blue-green, rich with life. Even the fish are multiplying!
At the left edge of the window, in the Sea of Galilee, is a scene of baptism. Jesus came to John to be baptized.
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my son, The Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
This water represents the healing and cleansing power of God through the act of baptism, and gives life to us each day. Notice the heavens opening as the Holy Spirit of God (symbolized by the ribbons of color and the dove) descend to earth. Indeed, the power of God is upon Jesus!
Much of Jesus’ earthly years of ministry took place in the land near the Sea of Galilee, a lake nine miles wide by twelve miles long. Along its shores he preached, prayed, healed the suffering, and even fed the five thousand. This window depicts the scene of the disciples on the boat out to sea, when a terrible wind came up. Early in the morning the disciples saw a figure walking on the water, and were afraid for they thought it was a ghost. But Jesus called out:
Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. (Mark 6:47-52)
In yet another story (Luke 5:1-11), the fisherman were not catching anything. Jesus tells them, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” And the disciples caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. This sea is filled with increasing numbers of fish, representing the promise of Jesus to the disciples to make them fishers of people, and those who believed, increased in numbers.
The sky is changing in this panel, signifying the approach of some stormy times ahead for Jesus and his followers.
The Epiphany window is given in memory of Mike Long by Jo Long.
Lent is a season of repentance for followers of Jesus Christ. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, continues for forty days (excluding Sundays) and concludes on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter). While the fish at the bottom of the window symbolize the believers in Christ, the water has turned a darker, more brooding color, suggestive of the difficulties ahead in Christ’s life and for the Christian. The land rising from the sea—non-producing farmland—represents the area of the Dead Sea. During his final time on earth, Jesus turned his face to Jerusalem, a steady ascent up a long, winding road.
The road in this Lenten window has particular meaning. Jesus calls us to repent. Luke 13:1-9 tells of Jesus’ words, “Unless you repent, you will all perish.” Early along the journey of discipleship, Christians have the choice to turn away from Christ or to follow Christ, even if the road is tortuous. Notice the fork in the road. One short and easy path leads to death, represented by the darkness of the sea. The other long and winding road leads to hope, via the cross and sacrifice of Christ.
Jesus predicted his death on a cross (Mark 8:31-38), and the long road leads to the crucifixion in this window. Two criminals were crucified simultaneously with Jesus. One accepted the love and forgiveness of Christ, the other did not.
. . . There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
Such joy is represented by the light of heaven illuminating the repentant criminal, leaving the non-repentant’s crucifix in darkness.
The prophets tell of a day of darkness and gloom, a day of dark clouds, and beg the people to return to God. (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17) The even, rhythmic grid of the sky in the second and third window has broken up into dark, swirling clouds and a fractured and/or “irregular,” dark sky.
The season of Lent concludes with the ultimate passion (sacrifice) of our Lord Jesus Christ: choosing to give his life that we might live.
Given by David and June Franck in honor of the Franck and Akins families.
Easter day celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, claiming victory over evil and the power of death. The season of Easter is fifty days long. The Easter window is a brilliant and/or “dramatic” scene of light, hope, wonder, and awe. The cross of death cannot bind the power of God.
The physical wooden cross lays empty on the ground, replaced by a new white cross, of light. This symbolic cross is made as the heavens open and the bright light of God’s love pours forth. This cross will stand forever as earthly physics cannot destroy it. The sky is now clear and evenly gridded—at peace—not distracting from the simple Easter message. As the faithful followers of Jesus rush to the tomb of his burial, they are greeted by angels of God, with the message: He is not here. Christ is risen! (John 20:1-18)
The column of intertwined ribbons of color represents the path for the Holy Spirit of God with the angels coming to earth, surrounding the followers of Christ. The multicolored ribbons mostly represent the complexity and enormity of all God is for us and does for us.
From the point of Jesus’ sacrificial death on a cross and his resurrection three days later, the world is forever changed. No one, no place, no event is outside the bounds of God’s presence. The bold swaths of color and light emanating from the cross and the Easter window represent the power and hope given to the entire world through Christ Jesus. The journey continues, led by the Risen Lord.
The Easter window was given by Tom, Suzanne, Kyle, Kelly Leyden and Lexie Smith in memory of Albert B. Smith and Elliot H. Leyden.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. (Acts 2: 1-3)
The day of Pentecost is fifty days after Easter, with the season of Pentecost extending until Advent. It is the longest season of the Christian year.
The day of Pentecost is recorded by the gospel writer Luke, in the book of Acts, chapter 2. It was a time when God’s Holy Spirit rained upon all believers in Christ, and they were filled with the Spirit and able to communicate clearly one to the other.
The prophet Joel said, “I will pour out my Holy Spirit upon all flesh.” The red ribbons of fire, descending from heaven, represent the Holy Spirit of God falling upon all God’s people.
From the stump of Jesse, first seen in the Advent window, comes the one true Messiah who brings abundant life. This is the complete tree, filled with green leaves, and the deep roots of God’s creating power.
Heaven and earth are filled with the power of God’s love and might. The bold colors emanating from the Easter cross symbolize that no one and no place is beyond the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. With the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, all the world is forever changed.
When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:30)
On the road of faith, those believing the gospel cannot stay in one place but continue on their journey, sharing the hope of the good news of Christ. All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
The Pentecost window was given by Glen and Leta Andrew in honor of their children, Clay and Ambra.