Celebrating the arts

Pam Ferguson

June 24, 2007 

Each Sunday during the summer Winchester Friends “celebrate the arts” in place of choir specials. Our meeting is blessed with incredible talent.  Logan Hall recently sang a beautiful song, last year Bev Schemmer shared paintings with us, Murray Schemmer and Norm Peters shared creations from wood. The flowerpots in front of the church this summer are also a form of art.  Gary Girton and Joyce Edwards envisioned a cascade of color and created pieces of living art for our whole community to enjoy.

On June 24th I combined the “Celebrating the Arts” time with the children’s lesson.  For the children’s lesson I created “art” with something I play with all the time……food.  Since I was talking about the stained glass windows for the arts and children’s lesson, Ron had the great idea that I should use finger jello to make a stained glass window.   

(Kendra Holliger with my finger jello creation.)

I am not very artistic and I like things plain.  I guess it is a good thing I’m Quaker.  Over the nine years I’ve worshipped here in our meetinghouse, each Sunday morning I spend time looking at the stained glass in our meeting room.  They are not very plain and are not very Quaker.  But they are incredibly beautiful and amazing creations of art. There is history and symbolism behind the beauty and I wanted to call attention to and celebrate the workmanship of men 109 years ago.

Three sides of our meeting house have very large stained glassed windows. On the east and west side of the meetinghouse the windows are similar with only one difference.  There is a CE on the bottom windows on the east side.  For the first years I was here, I wondered what “CE” represented.  After asking around, I discovered it represented “Christian Endeavor”.  CE was placed on the windows when the meetinghouse was built to let people know that our church had an active Christian Endeavor group meeting.


Christian Endeavor was a National organization of young people founded in 1881.  Christian Endeavor was to guide young people when they came of age to become world leaders in caring for the hurt, lost, hungry, and destitute.  CE taught young people to seek to fulfill the Great Commission and to transform the world by teaching the youth to set an example by balanced living and by training them to care for others.  Christian Endeavor was a champion of caring churches, honest businesses, and healthy lifestyles that honored God, and spread the good news of God’s Son Jesus Christ.  CE youth were caring Christians who believed that at the heart of a great society is a healthy church. They practiced humble service and a daily commitment to: Confession of Christ (Romans 10:9), Service in Christ’s Church (John 12:26), Loyalty to Christ’s Church (Romans 12:4, 5) and  Fellowship with Christ’s people (1 John 1: 3, 7).  Their simple pledge was:  

Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I promise Him that I will strive to do whatever He would like to have me do; that I will make it the rule of my life to pray and to read the Bible every day, to support the work and worship of my own church in every way possible, to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ, and just so far as I know how, throughout my whole life, I will endeavor to lead a Christian life.”


Almost all of the members of the William Penn Class were at one time members of Christian Endeavor.  It is still an active organization and it did indeed raise up a generation of young people who became leaders in our community and in our church.


Bev Schemmer calls the windows on the east and west side of the meeting house the “garden windows”.  I call the one on the east side the “garden window” because it faces the Compassion Garden. When you look at these windows, you can imagine images representing carrots, green beans, squash, peas and flowers.

I was told the stained glass windows in our meetinghouse are insured for over a million dollars. It seems impossible, but I can’t imagine the workmanship it would take to replace those windows. The windows were created in 1898 when our current meetinghouse was built.  Stained glass is an art.  It requires artistic skill to come up with the design and the engineering skills to assemble the decorative window so it is capable of supporting its own weight and surviving the elements.  In our case, surviving for 109 years. 
The windows are put together with lead and over the years, the lead has begun to loosen and allow the glass to sag.  In 1998-1999, 5 of the windows (3 in the parlor on the south side and 2 in the library) were re-leaded by a business in Farmland at the cost of around $1200 per window.  Each window is made of hundreds of pieces of colored glass held together with lead.  Each color of glass was colored by adding metallic salts during manufacture.  Copper oxides added to produce green, cobalt for blue, and gold added to produce red glass.

In the first meetinghouse of Winchester Friends, built on this same spot, there were plain glass windows on two floors.  In our monthly meeting minutes, it is recorded blinds were added to the windows. (You can see the blinds in the photo of the first meetinghouse.) This may have been done for several reasons.  Because of no air conditioning, the sun warmed the church too well in the summer time.  Another reason was women held their meetings on the first floor. Being in the middle of a busy city, people were always walking by.  Some may have felt it was difficult to be in worship with others looking in or people inside distracted by what was happening on the outside.  So when this building was built in 1898, the architect suggested adding stained glass windows to control the light into the building and to create beautiful art for those inside to see.  We cannot ignore stained glass windows were in fashion at that time.   
I would like to note that all of the other churches in Winchester have stained glass windows.  Our church building is the oldest in the city, and our stained glass windows are not the most elaborate, nor are they the plainest.  The Methodist (1899) and the Presbyterian (1904) churches have stained glass with the paintings of Christ knocking at the door and Christ on the road to Emmaus, or stained glass figures of lilies.  The Main Street Christian Church (1912) windows are basic designs without much symbolism.  Our stained glass windows are symbolic with only one small image. 

There is one window that is significantly different than the others.  It is the rose window.  Rose windows are traditionally at the highest point in the building, they are circular and have a symbolic message. Circular windows were developed in France and grace many of the famous cathedrals there. The name “rose window” was not used before the 17th century and in all likelihood stems from the Old French word roué, meaning wheel, not from the English flower name, rose.
We have very little information about the windows from 1898.  Rose windows traditionally are symbolic and Kenneth Pickering*, our pastor from 1947-1950 and 1953-1958, wrote up a description of what he thought our Rose window symbolized.  Kenneth Pickering and his family came to Winchester and Indiana Yearly Meeting from Friends in California.  He and his family returned to California in 1950 because of Kenneth’s health, but agreed to return in 1953.  Kenneth followed Aaron and Inez Naiper and Charles Thomas followed Kenneth in 1958.  Below is what Kenneth wrote in the last newsletter before his return to California in 1958.  The Winchester Friends newsletter was called “Quaker Columns.”

“For all the years I have been your pastor I have looked with awe and wonderment at the lovely rose window in the north wall of the sanctuary, how often I have said “how I wish I knew the story back of that window.”  I am still just as much in awe as I was eleven years ago when I first saw the window but recently it has spoken a message to me, which I want to leave with you.  I may come far short of what the builder of the church had in mind when he placed the window there but at least I see this tiny bit of symbolism in it and it has deepened my appreciation for the window.

First of all, you note the two large panes in the lower corners.  They are shaped like the tables on which the Ten Commandments were written.  They perhaps stand for the law and justice of our Eternal God and Father.


Then you note eleven round designed panes, nine across the top and two at the bottom.  To me they represent the eleven faithful disciples of our Lord who so willingly and lovingly went about the world taking the message of a Rison and Living Lord to all who would hear.

Then you will notice that there are eight petals like panes around the center, like the petals of a large flower.  Sometimes I have thought they might represent the eight Beatitudes which were so basic to the program of the Kingdom of Christ and which many people say were but enlargement on the Ten Commandments.

At the heart of the window, in the very central place, where it ought to be, it has a beautiful jeweled crown so symbolic of our blessed Lord and Savior.  He ought to be at the center and when He is not, life loses it meaning, there is nothing around which life may revolve.  Paul said it truly and beautifully in the Colossian letter “in all things He must have the pre-eminence.”


So, this is my interpretation of the “preaching window”.  The ten commandments, so foundational to life, the Beatitudes, building stones for a beautiful life, then we see the eleven disciples of the original band, faithful, devoted messengers of the Way and then at the center, the Crowned Christ.  Each tiny pane and each separate color has its place to play and each color and shape point to the Altogether Lovely One, Jesus Christ.
For sixty-one years, light has shone down on our congregation from this beautiful window, a masterpiece of art glass.  For all of those sixty-one years the message has been the same, no variations, just the plain, simple truth of God that says we must forever keep Christ central.

People have come and gone.  Preachers have come and gone.  Each contributed something to the ongoing of the Kingdom but when the last service has been held in our church, the last sermon preached, the last prayer prayed, the “preaching window” will still be beaming down on this congregation telling of God’s eternal love for those who make His Son, Jesus Christ, the center of their lives.                                                              Kenneth R. Pickering, Pastor 1958


On June 16, 1966, when Raymond Breaker was pastor at Winchester, lighting was added from the inside to the Rose Window to highlight the beauty of the window for those who pass by on Washington Street at night. It still shines each evening.

 *Kenneth R. Pickering (1911-1979) was a longtime Quaker pastor in Five Years Meeting (Friends United Meeting) and Superintendent of Indiana Yearly Meeting. Kenneth and his wife, Ruthanna, returned to Indiana Yearly Meeting in 1960 to serve for three years as Superintendent of Indiana Yearly Meeting.  They served as pastors at Bell, Long Beach and Los Angeles in California Yearly Meeting, Mooresville in Western Yearly meeting, and Lewisville, Knightstown, Amboy and Winchester in Indiana Yearly Meeting.  Ruthanna Pickering gave a small collection of items, including a photograph, biographical material, miscellaneous writings, and clippings relating to his pastorates to the Earlham Archives in 1992.


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