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Featured Windows, March-April 2008

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

Building: First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

City: Olivet

State: Michigan


Olivet Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Olivet, Michigan

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

Olivet Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Olivet, MI. Built 1893-1894.

Olivet Congregational Church, United Church of Christ was organized in 1845 as the First Congregational Church of Olivet by a group of missionaries from Oberlin, Ohio. They were led by the Rev. John Shipherd, who had co-founded Oberlin College, the first college in the nation to offer four-year degrees to women. Shipherd and his wife Esther Raymond were avid abolitionists. From its beginning, the church was closely associated with anti-slavery and temperance societies, as well as with nearby Olivet College, founded by the same group to provide higher education in Michigan for both men and women of all races. Shipherd chose a site on a hill in southern Eaton County for the new colony and named it Olivet, after the biblical Mount of Olives.

Left: Jesus with the Children (detail). This familiar scene, recorded in the Book of Mark, is inscribed, "Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark X: 15." Right: Jesus Talking to the Multitude (detail). Another scene, described in the Book of Matthew, shows Jesus speaking to his followers. An inscription at the left reads: "In Memory of the Founding of Olivet College. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Matt. V: 14. " A second inscription bears the names of early founders, including the Rev. and Mrs. Shipherd and Reuben Hatch, who became the first president of Olivet College and first pastor of the church.

The third and present church building, dedicated in 1894, is jointly owned and maintained by the congregation and Olivet College trustees. Designed by Milwaukee architect Henry F. Starbuck, the Richardsonian Romanesque building is constructed of native fieldstone and Ionia sandstone. Slate roofs cover its square towers and the lantern above an octagonal auditorium-style sanctuary. George E. Androvette & Co., founded at Chicago in 1890, supplied its stained glass windows at a cost of $1,000. Five figural windows are memorials to the early founders. Two large windows depict scenes from the life of Jesus; three smaller windows represent the apostle John and angelic beings. A number of non-figural windows bear the names of other early members and pastors. In 1996 a leaking steam pipe caused major damage to the church sanctuary and its windows. For two years church services were held in a building on the college campus. On November 15, 1998, a rededication service marked the complete restoration of the sanctuary and the listing of the church on the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites. Full Spectrum Stained Glass of Colon, MI, restored the windows.

Left: Angel with the Bible. Inscribed below are the words, "Grace and Truth Came by Jesus Christ." Right: St. John the Evangelist Writing in a Book. John, the author of one Gospel book, three Epistles and the Book of Revelation, is often shown with a book, one of his principal attributes. Inscribed below are the words, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1st John IV: 11."

Angel with the Ten Commandments. The angel holds two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, as recorded in the Book of Exodus, 31:18. The inscription reads, "The Law was given by Moses."

Olivet Congregational Church, United Church of Christ was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Julie A. Walker of Olivet, MI. The photos are by Bruce Snyder of Olivet College.


Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 2008.0002)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, March , 2008.