PITTSBURG, Kan. — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a five-part series, “The Gift of Color,” that looks at the stained glass windows found in area churches.
There is some recent history, along with that from Bible times, depicted in stained glass windows at the First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg.
The Nativity scene is central in the sanctuary of the church at 412 N. Pine St. But the 100-year-old church also has windows depicting the Kansas state seal and the entrance to Russ Hall at Pittsburg State University.
Jim Akins, senior pastor at the church, said the window depicting Russ Hall “speaks to the relationship the church always has had with the university.”
“In fact, when Russ Hall burned in 1914, it’s my understanding many classes were held here until a new building was constructed,” he said. “I suspect that’s one of the reasons.”
The church has 66 stained glass windows that were installed and dedicated from 1961 to 1965. They were given to the church by the family of William Deramus, who started his career with the Kansas City Southern Railway in Pittsburg and became president of the company.
Windows in the sanctuary depict the Nativity and Bible scenes of the life of Jesus through the Crucifixion. Among other windows are those that depict the Apostles and the Holy Trinity, along with John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
Akins said he often uses the sanctuary windows as examples during children’s time in the service.
“The best stained glass windows tell the story; they really become a teaching tool,” he said. “The Nativity is central. You see it every Sunday, but it’s especially important this time of the year.”
Ron Womble, a member of the church’s administrative council, said several of the windows also contain Christian symbols.
“They’re important because Christians would use them to identify themselves and each other,” he said.
Making the windows more energy-efficient is among renovation goals planned by the church — after it celebrates its centennial in 2014.
“We’re going to be evaluating everything, including the stained glass, to look at what we need to do to best preserve the building,” Womble said. “It’s stood for a century, and it needs to be here for a long time after that.”
THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS are found throughout the First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg: in the balcony, staircase and parlor, as well as the sanctuary.