Bishop Ely to Join St. Stephen’s-Middlebury for ‘Celebration of Light’ on June 2. All Are Invited!
MIDDLEBURY, Vermont – You are Invited to a Celebration of Light on June 2, at 5:00 PM at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 3 Main St., Middlebury, VT. On that day Bishop Ely will bless the fruits of a ten-year project to replace all the windows in St. Stephen’s historic church.
Evensong and Blessing at 5:00 PM.
Festive Reception follows.
The Let there be Light Project and the Altar Window Project were funded by private donations and with support of the Diocese of Vermont.
A Brief History of the Let There Be Light Project:
In the early 2000s, members of the St. Stephen’s community became increasingly aware that the windows in the Nave and Sanctuary of the Church were deteriorating rapidly. The windows were installed in the historic 1827 church building in the late 1800s. Though they were meant to look like stained glass, they were actually painted glass, using a technique typical of the time. Having withstood well more than 100 years of use, by 2009, some of the windows were deemed potentially dangerous, to the point of possibly falling out of their casings. The Vestry appointed a committee to begin the process of organizing for their ultimate replacement.
What ensued was a ten-year effort to replace the old windows and ultimately transform the interior sacred space of St. Stephen’s. Midge Scanlan, stained glass artist and designer of Rochester, Vermont, was engaged and subsequently guided the artistic design and execution of the entire windows project.
The initial campaign to raise funds for the Nave and Chapel windows was appropriately titled, Let There Be Light. Generous contributions from members of St. Stephen’s, the local community, and the Episcopal Church in Vermont made it possible for this phase to be completed by late 2014.
The Altar Window effort began in 2015. Once it was determined that nothing could be salvaged from the former window, beloved by many in the church, a new design for the Altar Window, deemed the “Spirit Window,” was approved by the Vestry in early 2016.
The Spirit Window was installed during the summer of 2017, thereby completing this multi-year “Let There Be Light” effort. This extraordinary effort was possible by the contributions, artistic, planning, and financial of many people, including the Episcopal Church in Vermont. All involved trust these windows will serve the St. Stephen’s and Middlebury community well into the 21st century and beyond.
The St. Stephen’s Altar Window (The Spirit Window) Created by Vermont Artist Midge Scanlon
Suggestions for your viewing:
Start at the top. Let your gaze trail down the borders on each side; the top edges represent winter. As you look down further, pale spring green begins to darken to summers deep green.
Further down these twin borders, the color shifts to autumn tones; here we view the rich configuration of the foreground, the bottom border. We see burnished leaves of autumn; among which we find many icons of our faith. Wheat and grapes represent our Eucharist elements of bread and wine. Passion flowers and pomegranates nestled in the leaves bring the symbols of The Passion. The Lamb of God rests, peacefully regarding us from among these icons of our liturgy. The shell of Baptism has river water flowing through it towards us.
On the bottom right is a pile of stones that represents St. Stephen, his palm plume of martyrdom rising from the stones. As our gaze travels up the river through pastoral views of forest, fields and meadows, we can note a fisherman’s boat pulled to shore, the empty net hanging unused. Further on, the tower of St. Stephen’s Church rises and beyond a silhouette of Middlebury College. Bread Loaf is in view. As we view the distance, our familiar Camel’s Hump crests the horizon. The flame, the Pentecostal flame begins to rise and spark through the sky. Rays pour from the heavens behind the Dove descending toward us. As the top lick of flame occurs, the Infinite Blue of all Creation rises to the apex of the window.