Religion

New windows help ‘lift hearts and minds to heaven’

A representation of Jesus the Good Shepherd created by Celia Henigman was placed in the Vestry at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church.
A representation of Jesus the Good Shepherd created by Celia Henigman was placed in the Vestry at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church. Special to The Telegraph

Year-end worship at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church was brighter — and some say richer. The congregation completed installation of 14 new stained-glass windows.

“I think the story the windows tell have definitely enriched our worship and the windows themselves have added a warmth to our sanctuary,” said Neil Moore, a Christ the Redeemer member and part of its vestry leadership team. “As you study them, they reinforce elements of the Gospel in such a beautiful way. It’s a tremendous connection.”

As Anglicans who are liturgical and given to the idea of worshiping in the beauty of holiness, we want to engage all our senses and the windows bring a wonderful visual element. They beautifully help lift our hearts and minds to heaven — that’s what they mean to me. They help us focus on the holiness of God and his beauty. We feel very blessed, humble and hopeful.

The Rev. Matt Harlow

The church, established in 2006, had one large, central stained-glass window built into the sanctuary it moved into in 2014. Members took on the project of adding 14 more in April 2016 and selected Forsyth stained-glass artist Celia Henigman of Henigman Remodeling & Glass to create and install them.

“We’d finished a number of projects and were figuring out what we wanted to do next,” said Father Matt Harlow, priest at the church. “The vestry and others were interested in stained glass windows. We talked to Celia and liked her vision and the work she’s done around Middle Georgia and beyond — including the magnificent restoration she did on windows at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Macon. We didn’t have money in the bank and didn’t want to finance the project so we adopted a pay-as-you-go plan with Celia. We paid for, and she made and installed, two or three at the time.”

The first two were installed in May and both Moore and Harlow said they and other church members were amazed at how quickly the project was completed. The last group was finished in December.

“It’s overwhelming. We’re a small but loving church and we had no idea how long it would take to raise the money,” Moore said. “There’s only one explanation how it was done so quickly: God! We really thought it might take years.”

Harlow said there was never a lag between ordering one group of windows to the next. He said money came through memorial gifts from individuals, families and groups.

“And Celia did an outstanding job,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier.”

Harlow said the theme and subjects of the windows were carefully thought out and designed.

“A lot was left to my discretion and I hope I did well,” he said. “But since we are Christ the Redeemer we wanted to portray the life of Christ in the windows. They go in pretty much chronological order with the opposite windows, row by row, having a matching theological significance. It’s great how Celia also matched them in coloring and flourishes.”

For instance, Harlow said the first window represents the account of Mary being told of Jesus’ birth by a descending angel. Its opposite is Christ’s ascension. The second portrays the account of Christ’s birth and its opposite is his crucifixion. Others include the account of Jesus in the temple as a child, which is paired with the Last Supper. Then there’s his baptism in the Jordan River versus the Apostle Peter’s being pulled from stormy seas, then water being turned to wine at a marriage versus Jesus blessing children.

At the front of the church are windows Harlow said have a Trinitarian theme to complement the large, existing window, which has a dove representing the Holy Spirit.

“To the left, Celia created a window of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, the holy family,” he said. “Mary and Joseph aren’t God, but the family is an iconic representation of the Trinity and reminder of Jesus’ incarnation. To the right is the Transfiguration, another representation of Jesus and the Trinity. Our Feast of Title as a church is the Feast of Transfiguration, so we certainly wanted that. It’s has an important relation to our name and purpose.”

Harlow said two other windows in side rooms at the front of the church complete the 14 windows. In the Altar Guild Sacristy, where preparations for the Eucharist are made, there is a window depicting the story of Mary and Martha as they each served Jesus in their own way. In the Vesting Sacristy, where clergy put on their vestments prior to services, there is a window of Jesus the good shepherd.

“Each window is a unique, hand-crafted piece that fits our church and the gentle spirit here,” Harlow said. “People have commented on their beauty and how transformative and peaceful they are to our worship space and how great it is to be surrounded by the story of Jesus’ life.”

Harlow said he’s found significance ministering in the midst of the windows.

“They have both and ancient and modern feel to them,” he said, “That’s a good reflection of who we are, too. As Anglicans who are liturgical and given to the idea of worshiping in the beauty of holiness, we want to engage all our senses and the windows bring a wonderful visual element. They beautifully help lift our hearts and minds to heaven — that’s what they mean to me. They help us focus on the holiness of God and his beauty. We feel very blessed, humble and hopeful.”

Moore said the approximate cost of the project at this point is about $75,000. He said though the sanctuary windows are finished, the congregation is considering two to three other windows elsewhere in their facility.

Harlow said Christ the Redeemer is a conservative, traditional Anglican congregation whose worship is formal and liturgical using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The church is part of the Anglican Province of America and descended from, but not connected to, the Church of England. At its location on U.S. 41, it is between Perry and Warner Robins serving the wider Middle Georgia community.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church

Address: 2815 U.S. 41 North, Fort Valley

Leadership: Father Matt Harlow, rector

Worship: Sunday School 9:15 a.m., Holy Eucharist 10:30 a.m., Wednesday Holy Eucharist 7 p.m.

Phone: 478-287-6411

Website: ctranglican.com

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