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Small church creates big labor of love

Many WELS churches feature stained glass windows that beautify their worship space. But not many of those churches take on the big task of designing, creating, and installing those windows themselves.

When Redeemer, Big Rapids, Mich., began making improvements to its sanctuary, the members knew that the plans needed to include an upgrade to the windows. The dream was to add eight new stained glass windows that combined beauty with religious symbolism. During the planning process, the congregation recalled that two of its members had hands-on exprience in creating stained glass: Pastor Jeffrey Weber and his wife, Karen. The Webers had learned the process at their previous congregation. “When we moved to Big Rapids, people found out about our experience,” remembers Pastor Weber. “They wanted us to do it again.”

Redeemer members stained glass window sanctuary
Redeemer members working on a stained glass window for the sanctuary.

Redeemer stained glass windowEven though they could create the new stained glass windows themselves, the Webers knew the value of involving other members: “Having the congregation work on the windows made the windows theirs,” says Karen. So the members rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

Taking inspiration from the stained glass window above the altar, Karen created the designs for the new windows. The congregation then began to recruit volunteers, and excitement started building. After the first several work sessions, which entailed learning the myriad steps involved in making stained glass, 14 group members gradually found their niche and began to realize that God had uniquely gifted each of them in a different step of the process.

The congregation supported the project in multiple ways. One member who does metalworking donated supplies. Another gifted the wood that framed each window. Many others supported the project financially. Karen recalls, “There were lots of pieces that came together to beautify the Lord’s house.”

Initially estimating the project would take at least two years, the team finished the first window in three weeks. Inspired, they then created and installed the remaining seven windows in only six months. Fran Doerr, a member involved in the project, says that the entire congregation cheered them on: “The love and support we have here—it’s drawn us all closer.”

The community of Big Rapids has noticed Redeemer’s labor of love. “People were watching. They would drive by and see window by window go in,” says Pastor Weber.

Doerr adds, “People I know asked, ‘You belong to that little church on the hill with the stained glass?’ It’s making a community impact.” On Sept. 25, Redeemer held a dedication and thanksgiving service to celebrate the recent upgrades to its worship space, of which the stained glass windows are the culmination. Redeemer members wanted to praise God for his blessings on their efforts. “God gave us the talents,” Doerr says. “The glory goes to him.”

Author: Forward in Christ
Volume: 109, Number 11
Issue: November 2022


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