Saturday, November 4, 2006

Churches That Look Like Churches

The First United Methodist Church of Dunbar, West Virginia, has inspiring stained glass windows in its sanctuary.

They can help draw a worshiper's thoughts to the things of God. Sadly, with the cost of such sacred works of art--and the current trend for a church building to look "modern"--stained glass windows probably are rarely seen in new places of worship.

In today's entry of Fetter Lane please allow me to offer a personal opinion. As visual people we need symbols and art to remind us of God. We need the sight of the pew Bible and Hymnal resting comfortably in its slot, the cross on the communion table, and the color spectrum dancing along the walls as the sunlight shines through the stained glass windows. We need symbols and art in worship. In worship, we need beauty.

In 1758, Wesley records the following in his Journal:

"Sunday, November 5 (Norwich).--We went to St. Peter's Church, the Lord's supper being administered there. I scarcely ever remember to have seen a more beautiful parish church: the more so, because its beauty results not from foreign ornaments, but from the very form and structure of it. It is very large and of an uncommon height, and the sides are almost all window; so that it has an awful and venerable look and, at the same time, surprisingly cheerful.
"Monday, December 4--I was desired to step into the little church behind the Mansion House, commonly called St. Stephen's, Walbrook. It is nothing grand, but neat and elegant beyond expression. So that I do not wonder at the speech of the famous Italian architect who met Lord Burlington in Italy: 'My Lord, go back and see St. Stephen's in London. We have not so fine a piece of architecture in Rome.'"

I can't quote to you a Scripture that justifies my opinion; I just like a church building to look like a church building and not a convention center.