The below article was written by Dr. Eugene Murphey and was published in The Tower newsletter of Decemebr 2004. Dr. Murphey gives a history of these missionaries and their importance to the Presbyterian church. The below is but one part of Dr. Murphey’s research. Additional articles will be added soon!
No exam, no homework, and no grades in this and upcoming sessions dealing with our local church history, but you are expected to remember and pass in the information to family, friends, and visitors whenever the opportunity occurs.
Let’s begin by talking about our wonderful church facility and specifically about the beautiful stained glass windows that grace three walls of our sanctuary. These windows were commissioned by First Presbyterian in 1969 and were designed and installed in 1970 by the Willet Company of Pennsylvania with the assistance of Dr. Arlan Dirlam, church architect specializing in Gothic architecture. His window Mrs. Grace Baker Dirlam, a native of Tupelo, still lives here. Dr. Dirlam also redesigned the sanctuary chancel area, and he and Dr. Henry Lee Willet were present and participated in the dedication ceremony January 18, 1970.
Stained glass dates back to medieval times, and much of the same process, although refined over several centuries, is still used today in the production of stained – or art glass – as it is more appropriately called.
The windows in the east and west walls of the nave tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ, starting from the first rear windows on the epistle or east wide and moving to the front and across to the gospel or west side and back to the rear of the nave.
As we approach Christmas season it is appropriate that we consider the first three windows depicting in chronological order the prophecy by Isaiah of Christ’s coming. The prophet is depicted having his lips purified with a burning coal by a cherubim, and below is the Holy Child with arms outstretched to the world.
The second window, the Annunciation, shows the dove of the Holy Spirit descending and Angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary to announce the coming of the Christ Child.
The third or Nativity window shows the familiar manger scene in Bethlehem with the star above and Mary and Joseph watching over the newborn baby. Below them is the Lamb or Agnus Dei symbol of God the Son. The Lamb holds a cross predicting Christ’s crucifixion.
As we view the windows let us not only enjoy them as remarkable and beautiful religious art objects but also use them to remind us of the wonderful symbols and events of our own Christian heritage. In future issues of The Tower, we hope to offer you more information on the sanctuary windows and other interesting information about our church and its history.