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Featured Windows, September 2003

Trinity Episcopal Church Window

Building: Trinity Episcopal Church

City: Niles

State: Michigan

This window, entitled "Behold the Master Cometh," illustrates a biblical story found in the Book of John. Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus of Bethany, await the arrival of their friend Jesus, whom they had summoned in the hope that he could heal their sick brother. However, Lazarus has already died and been buried by the time that Jesus and his disciples approach the town of Bethany. Hearing of his coming, Martha has gone to meet Jesus and tell him that her brother would have lived if he had been there earlier, but he assures her that Lazarus will be restored to life.

In this scene, Martha returns to tell Mary that Jesus has arrived and asked for her. Together with friends they hurry to the tomb, where Jesus calls Lazarus to come forth from his grave. Another biblical story in the Book of Luke also involves the sisters Mary and Martha, who welcome Jesus and his disciples into their home for food and rest. In that story, Martha is more concerned with serving the meal while Mary prefers to sit and listen to the words of Jesus, who commends her for choosing the better role.

The window was given to the church in the early 1920s by Catherine Jacks Weisburg as a memorial to her mother, Carolyn Mallett Jacks. Although there is no record of purchase, a letter written by the donor in 1958 attributes the window to the Tiffany Studios. Mrs. Weisburg recalled that "it was ordered from Spaulding's in Chicago and it was made and put in by Tiffany's of New York and I believe it was either 1922 or 1923." The attribution presents a problem, in that the window, which employs much paint on "antique" glass, is quite unlike other windows made by Tiffany, who used "opalescent" glass and very little paint. Other windows in the church, dating from 1858 through the late 1900s, are the work of the Charles J. Connick Studios of Boston, the Walter Pymn Studios of Benton Harbor and as yet unidentified studios.

Founded in 1834, Trinity Episcopal Church is the oldest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan. The present church building, erected in 1858, may have been designed by Col. James Lewis Glen of Niles, according to a church history written by Blanche M. Parkin in about 1955. Known for many achievements, Col. Glen is credited with surveying the city of Lansing, selecting the site of the new state capitol, laying out cemeteries in Ann Arbor and Niles, and contributing to the construction of Trinity Episcopal Church, where he worshipped for forty years. The church history relates that when he died on January 1, 1876, "from beneath the arches he had raised and from the shadow of the altar he had erected, he was borne to the cemetery his skill had laid out," the Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles.

Trinity Episcopal Church of Niles was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Frances Robinson of Niles.

(MSGC 1997.0062)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, September , 2003.