When you first enter the sanctuary, you’ll probably notice the striking colors of the 12 windows of Epworth. One of the early Epworth members, Dick Smith, designed the windows in the late-1990s when the sanctuary was built.
There are 10 vertical windows in the walls of this octagon-shaped sanctuary. Each is about six feet high and two feet wide. But where are the other two, you ask? Look above you in the center ceiling. There are two triangular windows in the central gables. These two windows are about nine feet long by two and a half feet high. You may also notice the two incuse crosses in the sloping ceilings flanking these windows.
Dick intended each window to have its own theme independent of the others. The colors and style of presentation are matched to each theme.
One unifying feature in each of the lower windows is an octagon of identical size and in the same location, although treated in a different manner in each case. This octagonal shape relates to the contour of the sanctuary itself.
All of the vertical windows share another feature: each contains some uncolored, textured glass representing the two-way interaction between the church and the surrounding community.
There is a strong presence of symbolism, both literally and subtly, in each window design. It relates particularly to the Epworth experience in worshipping and serving God.
For the most part, the content of the windows relates to the New Testament. There are no scenes of saints or prophets. The scenes you see are intended to address today’s church and work yet to be done.
Here are Dick Smith’s explanations of each window’s content.
Oh, by the way, Franklin Art Glass Studios, Inc., fabricated the windows.
Epworth Helping/Reaching Hands
This is one of two partially secular windows. It’s dedicated to the work of the church helping in the community and accepting those in need. The hands represent all ages, races (non-specific colors) and genders. Inside the octagon is Epworth’s long-time logo, which is symbolic itself. Extending from mid-window to the top in the background is a three-pronged element — God, the Trinity, supports all our work.
This and the next three windows represent the four seasons of the church celebrated at Epworth. Each is done in the liturgical colors used in the particular season.
This first of the series — Advent — has the candles and wreath used as we prepare for the coming of Christ.
Christmas / Epiphany
This window combines the two seasons as they often seem to be inseparable. The three kings follow the same star that announced the birth of Jesus, and the silhouette used here is the same one projected on Epworth Church during the Christmas season years ago.
Intentionally, this scene is serene with a Christmas-card look.
Lent / Easter
The cross and crown of thorns on an ash-gray octagon background are the Lenten symbols. A lily rises, interacting with the cross to usher in new life and hope. This could be considered more of a traditional church window.
The starting point here is the United Methodist logo of the cross and flame. All the other flame shapes and curving lead lines are done in the same vein. A vertical wisp of smoke in clear glass appears at the top left. Combined, these elements give a feeling of upward movement — a wind! Countering is the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descending from the upper right. This white dove can also symbolize peace and hope.
The Holy Spirit again appears in the heavenly rays at the top left. On the right, the rays are interrupted by a wavy shape representing a waterfall which leads into a pitcher pouring a clear stream of water into a bowl, which is in profile inside the octagon. These two utensils are similar to ones used in baptisms at Epworth.
A chalice resembling those used at Epworth, the grapes, a stylized head of wheat, and the broken bread, present the sacraments and their sources in nature.
This is another somewhat more traditional-looking church window.
The crook, and an adaptation of the familiar fish symbol, represent
Christ as the Good Shepherd and as Fisher of Humankind. The water
background is also symbolic of that powerful thread woven in the
A Scottish/Celtic cross inside the octagon completes the design.
From early writings (the scroll) through time to the present day Bible, the stories that form the basis for our Christian faith have been preserved.
A United Methodist tradition, the circuit rider, is in silhouette inside the octagon as he makes his lonely journey. This echoes the treatment of the three kings on the other side of the sanctuary.
Children / Music
The ministry to children and through music have always been of prime importance at Epworth. In this window, children of all colors are shown with an ancient lyre, presenting music, as a backdrop. God (the Trinity design) is ever present.
Nativity: This window speaks for itself. It’s done in a stark, simple style
Easter: The butterfly and blossoms represent the resurrection– rebirth. The red spots are symbolic of the blood of Jesus and the empty tomb is also the empty cocoon.