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Divine design: Church gets new stained glass windows

Worshipers at Queen of Angels Catholic Church now experience an enhanced aura of Whose house they are in thanks to new stained glass windows. The final and largest window, from a painting bearing the same name as the church, was installed last month in the front of the building facing Washington Road.

"I think it is wonderful," said Eric Gearns, who has been a parishioner for seven years. "I think Father Bill has just brought some life into the old building that wasn't there."

Father Bill Williams said the project started two years ago when two of the side stained windows were replaced by stained glass pictorial scenes.

"That started interest (among parishioners) in doing more," Father Williams said.

When the church's current building was built in 1965, a stained glass pictorial scene was installed behind the alter. The Marian-themed window with a crown and the Rose of Sharon, was made by Father Methodeus at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Ga.

Father Methodeus made the new windows in the church, also. Those along the sides of the church are scenes of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Angel's announcement to Mary, the birth of Jesus and Joseph being told to flee to Egypt.

Father Williams said he requested Father Methodeus use bold colors, mostly blue, to soften the harshness of the afternoon sun coming through the front of the building. The windows across the lower front are Mary's visitation with Elizabeth, the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple, Jesus' first miracle at the wedding feast, and a double window depicting Mary's assumption and coronation, with blue rays of light in the background.

"The windows actually help us concentrate more on our prayers and bring us a little closer to God," Mr. Gearns said.

Before the new Queen of Angels pictorial window was installed, Father Williams said the wall was all glass with a cross in the center of it. Over the years, the seams leaked in the rain, causing water damage to the entire wall.

Father Williams knew it was the perfect time to incorporate the Queen of Angels painting that he had been saving a picture of. It took Father Methodeus two months to make the window.

"The stain is painted on the pieces of glass and then fired into the glass. Then they are pieced together with leading to connect them," Father Williams said.

The window hangs in the upper floor behind the choir loft, which is the next phase of the building renovation project. Already in the process, the project requires raising the knee wall to regulation height in front of the loft, and installing a wrought iron rail so the window can be seen inside from the first floor.

After that, Father Williams said the heartwood pine ceiling will be insulated and air conditioning will be upgraded. Next will be restoring wooden pews that are cracked from age and the heat. Lastly, the back wall behind the altar will be insulated and updated.

All renovations, including the windows, are funded by families in the church. Father Williams said special envelopes are sent home after services for people to send donations if they wish. Many have made large donations in memory of loved ones.

Having approximately 150 families, Queen of Angels is the only Catholic church in Thomson. It began in the 1930s when David and Nellie McNeill moved to Thomson. Their friend, Father Carpentier, occasionally came from Tennessee to celebrate Mass for the group in the McNeill's living room on Lee Street. After outgrowing the living room, the group met in the Thomson Public Library until 1948, when an old house on East Hall Street was converted into a chapel. The current building on Washington Road was completed and dedicated in 1968. In 1982, Queen of Angels was elevated from Mission to Parish status.

Father Williams was appointed in 2005 to replace Father Edward O'Connor at his retirement. For more information, call the church at 706-595-2913.

Web posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007

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