Church completes stained-glass project

Melanie Berg didn’t know if she’d ever finish a five-year project she now considers the crown of her 30-year career. Berg completed the installation of the last of eight stained glass windows Wednesday at First United Methodist Church.

The eight large windows now surround the sanctuary of the large church building at 415 N. Lee Ave. Berg, owner of Berg Studios in Lubbock, has been working on the project since 1998, but was hampered from working for a year while she recovered from an auto accident. “I broke my neck in three places,” she said. “That was followed by a stroke. It took me a while to get to where I could use my hands properly again.”

But she said she had to finish. “This is so unique in so many different ways,” she said. “All the panes tell a story. There are no lines here that don’t tell a story. And there’s expression on each face. So much of stained glass you can only tell a man or a woman by the beard or the dress. You can see expressions here.”

Each hand-painted glass chronicles the story of Jesus from his birth to the crucifixion and resurrection.
“I’ve traveled Europe quite a bit, and this exceeds some of what I’ve seen in cathedrals all over Europe,” said Jon Smith, a member of the church.
Smith said the church took on the $125,000 project — paid for by individual donations — to add color and beauty to the church auditorium. “It definitely adds to the sacred environment of the sanctuary,” he said. “This tells the story that is found in the Gospels. It’s the core of our Christian faith.” The glass is spread among eight arched windows with three panes each. It begins with the Nativity, then moves to young Jesus in the temple, calling the fishermen, healing the sick, the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus blessing the children, the crucifixion, then the resurrection. “I’m excited,” Smith said. “It’s exceeded my expectations.”

Berg said she considers the First United Methodist auditorium the masterpiece of her career as a stained glass artist. “In 30-plus years of doing this, this is the prettiest place,” she said. “It’s just perfect. This is the perfect spot for story windows, and you don’t see that much anymore.” Berg said working with stained glass takes lots of time.
“It’s a medieval art in the 21st century computer age,” she said. “Compared to the glass put in the ancient cathedrals, this is instantaneous, but for today, it seems slow.”

The multicolored glass is about an inch thick and is surrounded in the arched window way by thick wooden arches that run the width of the ceiling.
Smith said the windows help illustrate the church’s message. “This is a story that someone as young as 3 or 4 can begin to understand,” Smith said. “Yet, this message is as important to someone who’s 84.”

600450 Church completes stained-glass project

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