A twelve-foot image of the Welcoming Christ, above the Fifth Avenue entrance to Marble Church, faces outward to embrace the world – the ultimate symbol of love and acceptance beckoning all to enter and find sanctuary amidst the trials of life. New York City, often acknowledged as the “crossroads of the world,” serves as a backdrop for Jesus.
Stained Glass Windows
One of the striking architectural features of Marble Collegiate Church is its stained glass windows, some of the most beautiful in New York City. When the church doors first opened in 1854, the congregation entered a sanctuary illuminated by light from ten windows of clear, unadorned glass. A redecoration in 1891 transformed the windows to diamond panes of blue-green and amber.
Dr. David J. Burrell, senior minister of Marble Church during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, envisioned ten narrative stained glass windows that would inspire and instruct all who gazed upon them. On December 9, 1900, the first of those windows, designed by the acclaimed Tiffany Studios, was dedicated as a memorial to the donor’s son (south wall, Joshua Leading the Israelites). The following year, a second window created by Tiffany Studios was installed (south wall, Moses and the Burning Bush). Ninety-seven years passed before another narrative window was unveiled at Marble Church.
Interest in Dr. Burrell’s vision was renewed in 1997, and a committee was formed by senior minister Dr. Arthur Caliandro and Dr. Edwin G. Mulder to oversee thematic content, design, and manufacture of eight new narrative windows.
In keeping with motifs established earlier, scenes above the balconies would depict the light and power of God coming from beyond to enter the human experience. Window panels below the balconies would incorporate a series of key biblical passages that address such spiritual themes as new beginnings, giving and receiving, the rich diversity of God’s family, revelation, and the search for God’s will. On December 6, 1998, the first of these new windows was dedicated (south wall, Crucifixion and Pentecost), which set in motion the continuation of a dream begun more than a century ago.
Each of Marble Church’s stained glass windows is a tribute to the positive, radiant Spirit that has guided this faith community since 1854.
Our Stained Glass Windows
- The Welcoming Christ
Sister Carol Perry Dedication
Where do we find the words to express our love and gratitude for one so important as Sister Carol Perry? During her 37 year ministry at Marble, Sister Carol taught us what God’s Word actually says, and in her life she has shown us what God’s Love actually looks like. Her fingerprints will forever be indelibly imprinted on our spirits and on the soul of Marble Church.
God’s power emanates in a fullness of light from the central round and divides into lancets that shine through storm clouds and refract into the rainbow of God’s promise. Cedars of Lebanon dot the valley of a volcano. A creature dives into the deep and birds skim the treetops. In the garden is a Tree of Knowledge, a serpent hanging from its lower branch. Man and Woman mingle with pairs of animals.
Sermon on the Mount
Disciples close protectively around Jesus as a great multitude gathers. People of all ages and from all nations wait hopefully, expectantly, to hear this wise man’s gentle yet powerful message of love and acceptance. Jesus is fully present, but we must lay aside pre-conceptions or prejudices and actively listen.
Stilling of the Storm
Begun in 2002, when memories of the 9/11 tragedy were still raw, the window, serving as an allegory of human response to crisis, depicts the moment just before calm is restored. Jesus reminds the men to place themselves entirely in God’s hands at all times. He reawakens faith that had been put ‘on hold’ during crisis.
The Prodigal Son
Having followed a life of dissolute living, the Prodigal Son realizes his wrongdoing and kneels before his forgiving father, who welcomes his repentant son with great joy and a loving embrace. But the older brother, who stayed behind, looks on with disappointment and envy. He is the only one ignoring God’s directive to forgive.
The Good Samaritan
A Samaritan jeopardizes his own well-being by aiding someone considered “not of his kind.” He shows genuine compassion for one whom most would consider not worth the trouble and inconvenience. The upper-left section
depicts a priest moving down the road with his back to the scene. The Levite, however, gazes over his shoulder, contemplating this act of mercy.
An intricate vision of the events surrounding Jesus Christ’s birth is presented. Shepherds gather before the manger in awe of the mystery that God has come in human form. The Star of David shines over Earth as a reminder of our faith heritage, and recalls the prophecy of a Messiah coming to be “the light of the world.”
A vision of the Peaceable Kingdom: humanity living in harmony with creation. A child leads a procession to the Holy Mountain, and the tree of life is a reminder of Eden; its leaves are inscribed with names of every country in the world. The rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant along with the seven doves representing seven gifts of grace.
Joshua Leads the Israelites
God miraculously stops the sun for twenty-four hours as Joshua battles the enemy; an allegory for God entering the human experience with mystery and strength.
Moses and the Burning Bush
A stunned and frightened Moses hears God speak to him from a burning bush. His comfortable world is about to be challenged by a new calling, a greater purpose. Like Moses, we experience turning points in life when God calls us to something other than what we expected.
Crucifixion and Pentecost
At the very center of our Christian faith stands this powerful symbol of God’s unconditional love for us.