In 1983 I was commissioned to design and construct leadlight windows for Bethany Lutheran Church, Sunbury, Victoria.
The church was the first mudbrick building in Sunbury, designed to draw community awareness and to provide a warm, earthy atmosphere.
The four windows were tall (110 cm high) and narrow (25 cm wide), and needed to reflect the natural environment, and harmonize with the building materials.
Here are visuals and an explanation of the design used.
[Click on any of thumbnails below to view the entire gallery in larger size, and from there to an even larger size. I have discovered that the best way to navigate from the gallery back to this page is simply to click on the gallery window itself, rather than try the normal Windows navigation arrows.]
Explanation of design (as given to congregation) –
‘And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of tree for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.’ (Ezekiel 47:12b)
‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The symbols found in these verses are the underlying theme for the design of these windows.
The four trees represent the community that is our congregation. We are living members of that community because of the water of baptism, and are able to live and grow where our roots draw on that water.
Our community is a forest of individual trees. We are all at different ages and seasons, each season a necessary part of our growth, and each season reflecting a beauty of its own. The four seasons represented can be interpreted as:
- WINTER – WAITING
- SPRING – RESURRECTION
- SUMMER – LIFE
- AUTUMN – DEATH
Some of us are in WINTER, waiting for the regenerating power of God. Some of us are experiencing the excitement, newness and joy in our faith that is our SPRING. SUMMER represents the mature tree in the act of unconsciously giving of its fruit – just because it is time to give. in AUTUMN the leaves fall, and the seeds return to the earth – a necessary completion of the natural cycle in order for new life to appear. This recurring cycle is a familiar experience in our lives: we have times of living in every season.
The constant unchanging symbols through all the seasons are the water and the seed. The seed is the purple jewel, and can be seen as a symbol of the Word, central to our being and growth. We are able to reproduce that seed and give it away, where our roots are near the water that ‘flows from the sanctuary’.
The seed can also represent the jewel that is ourself. Purple is the colour of kingship and worth, the value God places on each precious soul. The constancy in our lives as individuals is that core of each of us that never dies, the soul that is eternal, moved around by God, but intimately related to God in whatever season he places us.
The interpretation of any design is a very personal one, and I hope you can enjoy these windows in your own way. My prayer is that they may help to extend your awareness of your God, while adding beauty to the church.
– Rae Kempe.