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Clouds in the Sky

Our Church

Gunderson Memorial Garden & Columbarium

Our columbarium and gardens were built in 2011. The garden is a beautiful addition to our church grounds, offering a quiet, secure place for reflection. For our members, our columbarium offers a final resting place where loved ones are close by, in the heart of our church community.

 

Our gardens were enriched in 2012 with the woodworking artistry of Rev. Edmund Train, who created a beautiful mahogany vessel for the presentation of containers of cremains to be used during memorial services in the sanctuary and garden.

 

Our columbarium is a privilege offered only to members of Winnetka Covenant Church and their immediate family members.

For more information, contact our senior pastor, Peter Hawkinson.

Our Playground

During the summer of 2014, we updated our playground equipment and enhanced our play area for children. Our new enhanced grounds for children include a large lawn area, picnic tables, and a playhouse. 

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The Story of Our Stained Glass

There’s a spiritual journey just waiting to be taken when you enter our sanctuary. But it’s not through sermons, songs or scripture. It's art—specifically, the large window of stained glass on the south wall. Just ask Art Nelson, our Pastor Emeritus, who served as Winnetka Covenant’s senior pastor in the early seventies when the stained glass was designed as part of our new sanctuary, dedicated in 1973. The wall didn’t begin as a work of art.

 

As Pastor Nelson recalls, our church building committee wanted to install a big glass window on the south wall. But members worried that the noise and traffic from nearby Illinois Road might distract worshippers. So they kept brainstorming. Would curtains work? Not practical, they decided.

With all the cars and chaos nearby, could this be an opportunity to create an aesthetic, spiritually-expressive piece of art that protected worshippers from outside distractions, while enhancing the design of the new sanctuary?

The building committee’s vision led them to Conrad Schmidt Studios of Milwaukee, WI, an internationally-acclaimed firm launched in 1889 that specialized in stained and faceted glass. The company’s experience with churches and cathedrals around the U.S. convinced the committee to bring this kind of luminous art to Winnetka.

 

After touring the company’s studios, church members met a nationally recognized stained glass artist, Helen Hickman, who became the lead designer on the project. “She was an unusually sensitive artist,” recalls Pastor Nelson, “She brought strong professional skills, and deep biblical and theological wisdom.” 

 

Mrs. Hickman plunged in. She spent months learning about our church history and spiritual roots. The piece she crafted is not a traditional, dark stained glass (which joins cut pieces of glass through delicate strips of foil onto a framework of fused metal). Instead, Mrs. Hickman chose a technique called Dalle de Verre, developed in Paris in the 1930s, which means “glass slab.” This approach sets thick, heavy pieces of colored glass in a matrix of concrete and epoxy resin. The look is modern and impressionistic, similar to mosaic, except the glass glows with brilliant, light-filled color.

 

For our church, Pastor Nelson says, this more contemporary, bold approach helped solve the challenge of distracting sound, sight and light. But it also vividly tells the story of Winnetka Covenant’s pilgrimage as a church because it doesn’t tell people what to see or experience. “Our artist resisted a traditional rendering of doctrinal statement and a dated medium,” he says. In that same way, he adds, our founders built our church so they could freely seek God and follow their own individual spiritual paths, thinking for themselves.

“It reminds us of our own spiritual heritage, and our quest to continually awaken to new experiences of beauty and reflection.”

 

For anyone wanting to savor and experience this piece of spiritual art, Pastor Nelson suggests this: “As you look at the entire faceted glass window from across the room, let your eye move from the lower right-hand corner toward the left, passing through the many ‘colors’ of your life experience, both bright and subdued, some large, some small, interrupted occasionally by a white cruciform (cross-shaped) glass symbolizing your spiritual journey. Be sure and look for those vertical white crosses because they give you an opportunity to pause and reflect.”

 

Pastor Nelson adds that the matrix epoxy used in the piece is a lot more weighty and visible than the glass. “That’s the hard stuff that gives it structure,” he says. “Just like God uses the setbacks and challenges in our lives to strengthen our backbone so we can endure life’s ups and downs.

 

“At the farthest left part of the window,” he notes, “continue moving your eyes left until you’re finally gazing at the center of our sanctuary, where table and pulpit proclaim the heart of our faith, characterized by events that mark moments of both wonderful revelation and decisive challenges. “Like any wonderful piece of art,” he adds, “each person who lives with our stained glass will take an individual journey and let it tell its own story, finding his or her own occasion to offer praise and thanksgiving.”


Click here for a tribute to the artist Helen Hickman.

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