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Stained-glass completes church

Posted: May 22, 2009 10:22 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The new stained-glass window created by Tom Bailey for the First Presbyterian Church in Newhall.

 
Moving from pew to pew, turning the sanctuary lights on and off and standing on one side of the cross and then the other, Tom Bailey eyed his biggest stained-glass creation.

"I spent more time sitting in the church's pews thinking about what I wanted to put on the stained glass than it took for me to create the stained glass," Bailey said.

A large, rough, wooden cross, made from ceiling beams taken from the original First Presbyterian Church in Newhall, a New England-style church built in 1891, clings to the sanctuary wall of the present church.

Hanging on the wall under the cross was a colorful stained-glass light box. Bailey pointed out how the textures and colors in the stained-glass window changes.

"If you are here at night, it is different than if you see it during the day," he said. "Whether the stained-glass window is lit or unlit also makes a difference. It has so many different looks. It keeps changing, and when it does, it changes the look and feel of this sanctuary."

Bailey recreated the logo of the Presbyterian faith - consisting of a dove, a heart, Ichthus fish and footprints - on the window, layering the symbols on off-centered circles of yellows, browns and greens.

"The whole symbol for the First Presbyterian Church is right here," Bailey said. "The church's emblem is the cross; and in the four quadrants of this cross are a dove for peace, a heart for love, Ichthus fish for fellowship and footprints for Christ's ministry."

Bailey struggled with putting a personal touch on his creation.

"I wanted to do something that did not overwhelm the cross," he said. "The cross is central to our sanctuary. My idea was to tie the stained-glass window into the cross and by doing this, tie everything into the sanctuary itself," Bailey said.

Bailey's artistic touches, in addition to the concentric circles, included bright-yellow sun beams streaming out from the cross and deep purple borders around the cross and surrounding the window itself.

According to Bailey, the purple borders symbolize God's surrounding presence and the light beams represent Jesus looking down on the world.

"I think Jesus is always looking on what we do and I wanted to put this in the stained-glass window," he said.

Bailey added a nostalgic touch to his creation when he used green stained glass from the original First Presbyterian Church for the olive branch carried in the dove's beak.

"It sort of symbolizes our connection to those church-family members who came before us," Bailey said. "Now we can actually visualize this tie when we look at the stained-glass window."

According to Bailey, the window is the last part of the sanctuary beautification project at the First Presbyterian Church in Newhall.

Within the last two years, the Sanctuary Beautification Committee, spearheaded by Jim Combs, redesigned the sanctuary, painting one wall a deep ruddy red, putting in new lighting and sound systems, redesigning the layout of the communion table, pulpit and band area, and creating a strong horizontal visual look in the front with plants and painted wood lattices.

"I think the stained-glass window ties all the pieces of the sanctuary together," Bailey said. "The sanctuary is now whole."

Bailey started working with glass about eight years ago, traveling to Las Vegas for classes.

Teresa Howell is the head of the Outreach Committee and the First Presbyterian Church in Newhall. She can be reached at (661) 877-6331.

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