Have you ever looked closely at the stained glass windows in our Sanctuary and wondered what story they are trying to tell? Well, there is someone very special in our church who knows all about it. Meet Ms. Jan Keeley. It was her grandma and grandpa who commissioned the windows for the church. She has an amazing story about how her family, the Kemmerer Family, helped start the church many years ago
In 1852, the beginnings of our church started in the cozy living rooms of German settlers, like Jan’s great, great grandfather David Brown, Sr. As the humble congregation grew, Mr. Brown donated land in 1861 for a school that also hosted the little congregation on Sunday Mornings. Many years later in 1907, they built a big wooden church, but sadly in 1927 it burned down. The next year in 1928, a new brick church was built on Route 59, and Mr. Brown’s granddaughter Susie and her husband Reuben Kemmerer, Jan’s grandparents, commissioned the stained glass windows, which were dedicated in 1936.
The paintings in the windows each tell part of a Jesus’ story. The Kemmerer Family is a farming family, and the windows represent the complete cycle of farming in a Biblical way.
* In the central window, Jesus is walking through a field of wheat with His disciples as in the account of “The Question about the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28; Matthew 12:1-8)
* If you look closely, you can see thistle weeds growing among the wheat. This reminds us of Jesus’ “The Parable of Weeds”. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
* In the red medallion above, seeds are being scattered as in “The Parable of the Sower” (Mark 4:1-9, 13-20; Matthew 13:1-9, 18; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15), “The Parable of the Growing Seed” (Mark 4:26-29), and “The Parable of the Mustard Seed” (Mark 4:30-34; Matthew 13:31-32, Luke 13:18-19)
* In the left medallion, the sheaf bundle of grain stalks represents the gathering of the wheat and burning of the chaff or husks. (Luke 3:17; Matthew 3:12)
* In the right medallion, the windows depict the “Bread of Life”, which Jesus called himself. (John 6:35, 48)
Back in the days of the old brick church, Route 59 was a lonely country road. As a beacon of hope, the windows were kept lighted at night to help weary travelers find safe haven from a storm. The church door was always left open, and it became known as “The Church with the Lighted Window.”
69 years later, the population of Naperville was booming, and Route 59 was no longer a quiet country road. Plans to widen the road meant that the old 1928 brick church building would be torn down. In 1997, a new church sprang up on the farm of Jan’s Uncle Earl Kemmerer. That’s where we are today, and our address, 1852 95th Street, Naperville, pays homage to the year the early church settlers began congregating in their living rooms. The windows were carefully saved and moved here.
Jan wanted to give her parents a special reminder of the old brick church building. So she built a miniature one of her own. She made every tiny nook and cranny herself, down to the cross from her mother’s jewelry on the tiny pulpit. Of course, even the stained glass windows are lighted replicas of “The Church with the Lighted Window.”
Thank you to Jan Keeley and the Brown & Kemmerer Families for sharing their legacy with us!