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Stained glass enhances church experiences, tells stories

VALLEY CITY, N.D.-From her pew, Illa Glandt watched the stained-glass window come to life.When the sun set, the white dove in the center of the 12-by-15-foot window lit up, hovering over the congregation at Faith Lutheran Church here."It was just...

Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

VALLEY CITY, N.D.-From her pew, Illa Glandt watched the stained-glass window come to life. When the sun set, the white dove in the center of the 12-by-15-foot window lit up, hovering over the congregation at Faith Lutheran Church here. "It was just marvelous. You always see something different when you look at it. It's the first thing you see when you enter. It's kind of overwhelming," Glandt says. Related: Learn how a stained glass window is made The stained-glass window includes a replica of Faith Lutheran's former church building that was destroyed by arson in 2013. Created by liturgical artist Stacey Asp and stained-glass artisan Ramon Morin, Jr., the window makes the new building feel more like home, Glandt says. For centuries, stained-glass windows have enhanced church experiences by telling stories through art and adding beauty to religious spaces. 'Another way of preaching' Stained-glass windows are meant to "draw people's eyes to the heavens," says Roy Hammerling, a religion professor at Concordia College in Moorhead. Stained-glass windows in churches became popular when gothic architecture developed in the 12th century. Architects were able to design taller buildings with places for large windows. The windows were traditionally positioned to represent a cross and the wounds of Christ, Hammerling says.

Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

"The church is kind of a symbol of resurrection," he says. "You come in, the light is a symbol of resurrection and the stained glass can have scenes that are meant to evoke emotions." Stained-glass windows in religious spaces often tell biblical stories, so even if someone can't read, they can still learn about the Bible. "It's another way of preaching," Hammerling says. Locally, church buildings may not have the gothic architecture that's common in European churches but, Hammerling says, the religious spaces still have the light. "These are German, Swedish and Norwegian immigrants in this area and they remember these magnificent buildings, they remember this light," he says. "I think that's what was intended by these types of stained-glass windows and the idea of drawing the attention to the light-the idea that Christ is light and Christ brings light to the world and drives away the darkness." 'Great responsibility' for artists Creating and restoring stained glass for churches is a weighty responsibility for liturgical artists and stained-glass artisans. Asp, of Harwood, says the church building is as personal as a home. "It's a collaboration, especially in churches, working with committees and congregations and creating something that means so much to everybody," she says. Asp studied liturgical art under well-known local artist David Hetland, who died in 2006. She's involved with creating the window from beginning to end, meeting with the congregation members and artisan multiple times. Using ideas from a congregation, she'll design a window and choose glass colors and patterns, along with painting detailed pieces of glass. Then, the window is constructed by a stained-glass artisan like Morin, of Studio Renaissance in Fargo. Morin and Asp teamed up to create the large new window at Faith Lutheran Church in Valley City. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2415677","attributes":{"alt":"Stained glass window at First Lutheran Church in Fargo.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor","class":"media-image","height":"5726","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"3817"}}]] "It's a representation of their faith, their story, their struggles, their building, what they want to pass on to their children," Morin says. Morin often sees people become emotional during stained-glass installations in churches. Sometimes, church members have forgotten the beauty of the windows, but notice them again once they're restored. Or, people donated money for part of a window in honor of a family member, so the window holds special meaning. "I have an opportunity where I get to work with congregations and they give me this ability to take something that is dearly personal to them and either create new stained glass for them or restore their stained glass for future generations," Morin says. "That's a great responsibility so you take that with pride." Stained glass can last 100 years or more with proper care and restoration. "To know that what I'm doing now is going to be around long after I'm gone ... it's quite overwhelming to think about," Asp says. "As a person of faith myself, it's really important to me to be a part of the storytelling in a worship space, being able to share the faith."VALLEY CITY, N.D.-From her pew, Illa Glandt watched the stained-glass window come to life. When the sun set, the white dove in the center of the 12-by-15-foot window lit up, hovering over the congregation at Faith Lutheran Church here. "It was just marvelous. You always see something different when you look at it. It's the first thing you see when you enter. It's kind of overwhelming," Glandt says. Related: Learn how a stained glass window is made The stained-glass window includes a replica of Faith Lutheran's former church building that was destroyed by arson in 2013. Created by liturgical artist Stacey Asp and stained-glass artisan Ramon Morin, Jr., the window makes the new building feel more like home, Glandt says. For centuries, stained-glass windows have enhanced church experiences by telling stories through art and adding beauty to religious spaces. 'Another way of preaching' Stained-glass windows are meant to "draw people's eyes to the heavens," says Roy Hammerling, a religion professor at Concordia College in Moorhead. Stained-glass windows in churches became popular when gothic architecture developed in the 12th century. Architects were able to design taller buildings with places for large windows. The windows were traditionally positioned to represent a cross and the wounds of Christ, Hammerling says. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2415676","attributes":{"alt":"Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor","class":"media-image","height":"480","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"200"}}]]"The church is kind of a symbol of resurrection," he says. "You come in, the light is a symbol of resurrection and the stained glass can have scenes that are meant to evoke emotions." Stained-glass windows in religious spaces often tell biblical stories, so even if someone can't read, they can still learn about the Bible. "It's another way of preaching," Hammerling says. Locally, church buildings may not have the gothic architecture that's common in European churches but, Hammerling says, the religious spaces still have the light. "These are German, Swedish and Norwegian immigrants in this area and they remember these magnificent buildings, they remember this light," he says. "I think that's what was intended by these types of stained-glass windows and the idea of drawing the attention to the light-the idea that Christ is light and Christ brings light to the world and drives away the darkness." 'Great responsibility' for artists Creating and restoring stained glass for churches is a weighty responsibility for liturgical artists and stained-glass artisans. Asp, of Harwood, says the church building is as personal as a home. "It's a collaboration, especially in churches, working with committees and congregations and creating something that means so much to everybody," she says. Asp studied liturgical art under well-known local artist David Hetland, who died in 2006. She's involved with creating the window from beginning to end, meeting with the congregation members and artisan multiple times. Using ideas from a congregation, she'll design a window and choose glass colors and patterns, along with painting detailed pieces of glass. Then, the window is constructed by a stained-glass artisan like Morin, of Studio Renaissance in Fargo. Morin and Asp teamed up to create the large new window at Faith Lutheran Church in Valley City.

Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Stained glass window at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

"It's a representation of their faith, their story, their struggles, their building, what they want to pass on to their children," Morin says. Morin often sees people become emotional during stained-glass installations in churches. Sometimes, church members have forgotten the beauty of the windows, but notice them again once they're restored. Or, people donated money for part of a window in honor of a family member, so the window holds special meaning. "I have an opportunity where I get to work with congregations and they give me this ability to take something that is dearly personal to them and either create new stained glass for them or restore their stained glass for future generations," Morin says. "That's a great responsibility so you take that with pride." Stained glass can last 100 years or more with proper care and restoration. "To know that what I'm doing now is going to be around long after I'm gone ... it's quite overwhelming to think about," Asp says. "As a person of faith myself, it's really important to me to be a part of the storytelling in a worship space, being able to share the faith."

Related Topics: FAITH
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