Magazine article Anglican Journal

Window Offers 'Vision of Hope': Stained Glass a Welcome Sight after Hurricane

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Window Offers 'Vision of Hope': Stained Glass a Welcome Sight after Hurricane

Article excerpt

WHEN HURRICANE Camille devastated the GulfCoast on Aug. 17, 1969, among the landmarks it destroyed in Biloxi, Miss., was the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where only the bell tower survived.

Before the bulldozers ploughed away the debris, however, women parishioners painstakingly picked through the ruins for pieces of the church's exquisite stained glass windows that had been imported from Germany. Among the shattered pieces they recovered were images of Jesus' face and hands, lifted in an act of blessing.

The recovered glass became new works of art under the hands of Evelyn Pease, an artist trained in Germany. Some became part of a "Rose Window" behind a rebuilt Church of the Redeemer; others became part of the "Window of Hope," which art students from the Louisiana State University created with the help of their art instructor Paul Dufore, and Ms. Pete. The fragments with Jesus' face and hands became the "Window of the Redeemer" and depicted him with arms raised in welcome, a sun flare behind him. It was placed in the narthex of the church.

When Hurricane Katrina rampaged through the Gulf Coast in September, 36 years after Hurricane Camille, the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer again took a direct hit and this time, even the bell tower did not make it. But something else miraculously survived: The stained glass window with the welcoming image of Jesus.

"I can't comprehend it. No pews survived, but this 19th-century glass window did," said Rev. Harold Roberts, who became rector of the Church of the Redeemer more than eight years ago, after moving to Biloxi from Toronto, where his last parish was St. Timothy's church in Agincourt, Ont.

Mr. Roberts and his congregation became aware that it survived when Biloxi Sun Herald photographer Tim Isbell photographed the stained glass window propped against the bumper of a truck, which was loading salvaged goods near the beachfront; it is now being held for safekeeping by a parishioner.

The story of the stained glass window that survived one of the worst natural disasters in American history has been like a beacon of hope for the Redeemer congregation, which has vowed to build a new, better church!

The congregation, which held a service at the church ruins the Sunday after the hurricane, is now worshipping in a public school. But Mr. Roberts said the congregation is looking at a two-year timetable for building a new church.

"We're holding up a vision of hope," he said, adding that it may not be on the same spot and may involve a new way OF doing ministry. …

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