Colorful Enhancement

Wright County Journal Press

Second Section

March 25, 2004/No.27


The largest window in the new narthex at Immanuel Lutheran Church is positioned above the entryway. The window was originally installed above the main entrance into the worship area of the church.

Colorful enhancement

Stained glass windows restored and preserved in addition at Immanuel Lutheran Church

By Ed DuBois

A project aimed at adding an elevator and providing easy access to Immanuel Lutheran Church resulted in an added bonus. Stained glass windows on the west end of the church were restored and included in a new addition.

The project started in June and is now near completion at what is sometimes referred to as the Pelican Lake Church. Established in 1890, the church is located along Highway 35 at County Road 117 a few miles east of Buffalo.

A dedication for the addition is planned for Sunday, March 28 after the 9:30 a.m. worship service. The event is being held in conjunction with a Mission Festival. A Hmong pastor will be the guest speaker, and a potluck dinner will be enjoyed.

Loren Weese’s construction company did much of the work on the addition at close to cost. Many volunteers were involved with various aspects, especially regarding the stained glass windows restoration.


Volunteers offered help

Julie Gutknecht described the work. She estimated that close to 50 people volunteered their services for the many tasks that needed to be carried out in the new narthex. Around two dozen volunteers helped with the windows.

Altogether five old windows were taken out of their places in the former front of the church. The windows were entirely taken apart. Individual pieces of glass were separated and cleaned. All lead and cement were removed.



Concentrating on their task, Paul Nowack and Vernetta Weese work on a few of the windows for the new narthex.


Patterns were created and Vernetta Weese did most of the reassembly work. Besides fitting the pieces back together with lead, they replaced damaged glass pieces. The joints were the strands of lead came together were soldered. New cement was tucked in between the glass and the lead. A patina process changed the color of the lead from relatively shiny silver to a dark grey. The dark color helps draw attention to the glass rather than the outlines of the glass, Gutknecht mentioned. She added that the lead would eventually darken anyway. The patina process helps preserve the window.

The work had to be exact because the reassembled windows had to fit into spaces left in the brick walls of the new addition.


Images of Jesus included

Most of the windows surround the entryway into the new narthex. The entryway faces the parking lot on the south side of the church building. Three new windows matching windows were created for three rectangular spaces in the west wall of the narthex. Two of these newly created windows feature center sections that had previously hung separately in the church. One shows Jesus in Gethsemane. The other shows Jesus as a good shepherd. The images of Jesus had been donated a number of years ago by Beverly and Jim Kowalke in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary.



Windows that shows Jesus as the good shepherd and Jesus in Gethsemane where donated to Immanuel in honor of Beverly and Jim Kowalkes 25th wedding anniversary.


The stained glass that surrounds the images of Jesus matches the other stained glass windows.

“We used as much as possible of the old original glass, which had been left over from the reconstruction phase in the windows, primarily in the outside border (of the new windows),” Julie said.

She commented about the motivation for working on the project.

“With the world today in such turmoil, and when we’ve all been so blessed by God with talents and gifts and his presence when we’ve been personally in distress, it only seems the most natural thing to step up in any fashion to return the love He’s already shown us. For some, that’s financial or with the ever important prayers. With others it was pushing a broom or clearing branches. For me it was through the glass,” Julie said.


Two months in the basement

Julie and Vernetta commented that with any volunteers helping, much of the disassembly and cleaning work was done on one Saturday. They were surprised how quickly they progress. The work was done in the church basement.

The reassembly work took longer, and that necessitated the occupation of space in the basement for a relatively long period of time. Church members and Sunday school participants were understanding. Their patience was much appreciated.



Working very carefully, Alan Gutknecht reassembles the restored and cleaned stain glass.


The project started in January, and the windows were on tables in the basement for about two months as the reassembly work took place.

Replacing old, broken pieces of glass with new glass was somewhat painstaking. Even though the new glass had the same number and color as the old glass, the color did not always look exactly the same, and some comparing and adjustment was needed. Julie suggested that the changes in technology over the years accounts for the differences.

Suzanne’s Stained Glass in Buffalo was the source for much of the new glass. Both Julie and Vernetta had taken classes at Suzanne’s. They mentioned that Marty Stonehouse of Avon provided some helpful tips on stain glass window restoration work, as well.


Fit inside the form

One of the technologies that was used while reassembling the old windows and making the new windows involved cardboard forms. Julie and Vernetta said the pieces of the old windows only fit back together one way. After the pieces of glass were laid down on the forms, pictures were taken to record the correct position of each piece.

Julie mentioned that the importance of keeping each window inside the frame of the form as the restoration work performed. The windows had to fit exactly in the spaces provided for them in the walls on the new narthex, and they did.

The brick of the new narthex matches the brick of the old original church building very closely. The building was constructed in 1928. Pastor Stephen Smith said an addition was built in 1979, and now the second addition is providing easier access for older members of the congregation and those with disabilities.

A new restroom is also included. You no longer have to go to the basement to use a restroom.


Enhanced by color and light

The largest stained glass window was formerly located over the main entrance to the church. That window is now positioned over the entrance to the new narthex.



The moment of truth, when the windows were installed, went well. They fit. This is Al Gutknecht, Julie Gutknecht and Loren Weese.


As you look at the rows of stained glass windows on either side of the worship area inside the church, you can see their style and color were matched in the windows of the narthex. Julie mentioned a desire to try to preserve the history of the church as much as possible while restoring and moving windows.

Thanks to volunteers and the cooperation of Loren Weese and his workers, a project to help provide easier access to the church was completed with an added bonus.

The new narthex is enhanced by colorful features of the original church building.

Perhaps have a look when you get a chance to visit.



A dedication service of the new narthex is taking place this Sunday, March 28 after the morning worship service.