February 21, 2019
Submitted by Meg Pitts
Smoky Hill United Methodist Church
In the mid-1980's, a group of congregants sought to add stained glass windows to the Smoky Hill United Methodist Church sanctuary in Centennial, Colorado.
In a church member's garage, this group set up shop, using their own equipment, and designed and created the windows. In 2017, another church group, inspired by these windows in the old sanctuary, now the Celebration Hall, decided to create windows for the new sanctuary.
Two members of Smoky Hill had experience in making stained glass, and created a training program for other interested congregants. Eighteen people completed the training and decided to aid in the design and production of these windows. This work is still ongoing, and two sets of windows have already been installed.
Smoky Hill UMC has a long history of art, with an art gallery in the Gathering Place just outside the sanctuary. The gallery and art programs are organized by the Gallery Team, that includes artists of many disciplines. Led by the Gallery Team and stained glass experts, the sanctuary windows were completely designed and produced by members and friends of the congregation.
Each set of six windows tells a story: the East windows tell the story of the Life of Jesus; the West windows celebrate God’s Beautiful Creation; and the Northeast windows, currently in production, will depict the Symbols of Christianity.
Many of the window artists studied stained glass years ago and hadn't had an opportunity in recent years to practice. Some of the artists are painters and photographers and were very excited to use their knowledge to design in a new medium. One artists shared their enthusiasm of the project's collaboration, saying "I was so excited to have an opportunity to use my creativity and contribute to the church in a lasting and meaningful way."
The congregation has supported this project with donations and encouragement for the artists. They continue to provide generous donations and support for the windows.
Though this phase of the project will conclude when the next six windows are installed, the congregation continues to imagine new ways to collaborate as artists. Motives may vary, but many congregants simply enjoy the time together, with one sharing, "I love the fellowship."