The Story of Our Sanctuary Windows
(This history was prepared by church member Paul Bohmfalk, and is presented here as he wrote it.)
Back in the 1960’s, our church was designed in a sort of semi-circle with the pulpit and organ in front and the seating in a semi-circle facing the pulpit area. On the right and on the left were three windows on each side with the family donor names below them. They had been given by families years before, and actually none of the names were familiar when I joined the church with my wife.
There was discussion about finishing the scheduled building of our complete sanctuary, since both the wings had been finished. In other words, we had the education building just recently completed and the classroom and children’s rooms all done with the old red church in the center.
Decisions were made and Tom Holmes took on the job of removing the old red church. Before long, the area was completely cleared and soon the steel structure stood in the cleared space, looking sort of a like a flamingo standing there. (Website editor’s note: all four of the main buildings of this congregation have stood on the exact same space.) My wife, Adelyn, was church secretary at the time, so I was pretty well-informed as the various materials were delivered. Several truck loads of 30-foot solid 2×6 mahogany timbers came in, and as the outside form was done, one part after another was completed. The 30-foot timbers line the inside of the sides of the sanctuary. They are painted brown, which I regret, since I like the grain of the beautiful woods to show. As I recall, there was not a single know showing in this beautiful wood.
The building committee, with P.E. Lindsey as chairman, went ahead with regular meetings, and the finance committee with John Seale as chairman tried to keep up with them. The financing was handled by the three banks carrying a joint note for the major costs to be met. This was an unusual and very interesting arrangement and I recall that since Adelyn tried to be efficient with the payments, she kept one month’s payment in reserve all the time so there would be no defaults. Over $300,000.00 was required, and few year years ago this had been reduced to some $35,000.00 and one of our fine church families paid off the balance.
The old windows mentioned earlier were discussed. It was felt that since they represented families from the past, they should be used somewhere in the new building. A window construction firm from San Antonio, led by its owner, an 80-year-old man, had been engaged to design the beautiful front window – an abstract that continues to shine its beauty every night as people pass by. He was asked if he could use the windows from the old church in some way, and he agreed. They would be taken to San Antonio and re-leaded and incorporated into the new structure. Another of our fine church families took the responsibility of payment for the window costs, and the old windows were taken to San Antonio for repairs. The old gentleman said this would be his final project, and since the new type of blocky “chunk” glass was available, as well as a new product (at the time) called “epoxy,” he planned that the job would be a final tribute to his great design ability. The front window was made in sections and he came with his crew to personally supervise the entire installation.
Long before this, though, a call from the police department in San Antonio advised the church office that the antique windows from our church had been stolen, but they assured the church that they were making every effort to recover them. Several days later, a call came from the builder stating that a former employee, realizing that they were antiques, had taken them, and to hide them had put them in a deep spot in the San Antonio river and covered them with concrete blocks. He said that although they had been recovered, they were pretty badly damaged, but he would do what he could. He also said that those that could not be repaired he would replace with other windows he had from other churches. This was satisfactory with our church committees, and the work continued.
If you look at the six windows to the right of the pulpit area, you will notice that the third window from the left is larger and has the beautiful deep color structure. it is “Christ, the Good Shepherd” and is the only one of the original windows, unless I am seriously mistaken, that was useable in complete form. The rest are beautiful, but are replacements. Some of the designs from the old windows are in the hallway that leads to the education building.
The beautiful abstract front window means many things to different people, as an abstract should. Some see the outline of Chris, and others see only the beautiful shades of color. For a time, due to short finances, the church discontinued lighting the window at night to save costs, but I was glad when we decided to light it up to advertise a membership that cares about such things. When we have visitors, we try to make the effort to come along the side of the old post office (corner of Main and Milam streets) at night and let them see the beauty that reminds us that a church is made up of many members, and when they work together there is no limit to what they can accomplish. The total design is a tribute to those members from the past, as well as the present, who have helped accomplish it. As the Book of Nehemiah says about the people who built the walls of Jerusalem, we may say of our various accomplishments “and they built the church, for the people had a mind to work.”