A prominent church in Logan Square is restoring its windows in a process that requires $25,000. Plexiglass was recently removed from one of the windows, allowing for the glass’ restoration to its original brilliance. A rededication service on Sunday, June 12, at 11 am celebrates this project.
The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church’s (2614 N. Kedzie Ave.) cornerstone was placed in 1908. Since then, stained glass windows were donated by multiple individuals and groups, including a confirmation class, youth group and musical groups.
With age, glass pieces broke, and the windows sagged and warped. Since the 1970s, plexiglass has covered the windows in hopes of protecting them. It turns out, though, that this practice deteriorates the windows, says Beverly Covyeau, a member of the church and the church council president.
The restoration of these windows is done by an expert, David Condon, owner of Colorsmith Stained Glass. Covyeau says Condon is tediously taking the windows apart, replacing any broken glass and putting it back together. The front window alone took six weeks.
Due to the long timeline of restoration and funding needed for the project, this is quite an endeavor. There are around 40 stained glass windows throughout the church, also known as Minnekirken (“Memorial Church” in Norwegian). Restoration will occur as funds become available, but, “the sooner the better,” said David Schoenknecht, the church’s pastor.
Logan Square Preservation is playing a large role in this project, having paid more than $5,000 for the restoration of the front window, Covyeau says. The group even set up a GoFundMe page to raise money. At the time of publication, they raised about $3,000 of their $15,000 goal. During an interview with members of the church’s congregation, the sources thanked Logan Square Preservation for their help and dedication to this project.
Since the restoration started before Easter of this year, Schoenknecht began incorporating themes from the windows into his sermon. For Good Shepherd Sunday in April, the pastor entered the church early in the morning and quickly noticed that one sheep in an upper east window was opaque white. This sheep is made from a replaced piece of glass that is painted brown. “It scared the bejeebers out of me,” Schoenknecht exclaims. It turns out the painted color is on just one side, so there was a reflection making it appear white.
In his sermon that day, he incorporated this experience. “All of us are a little like that sheep. All of us are imperfect and broken, and still we’re considered part of Jesus’ flock. Sometimes, even though we’re imperfect sheep, we can be surprising just like that surprised me.”
Along with the sermons and overall project the church faces, new information arises, and aspects of the windows become apparent to the congregation.
“This whole process is causing [the windows] to mean more to the congregation than they have,” Schoenknecht says. “I think it’s meaningful to the congregation in the sense that it represents our attitude toward the community, too. We’ve been talking a long time about our doors being more open to the community. In a way, this is a symbol of let’s take off the plexiglass. Let’s be more a part of this community.”
Covyeau is noticing new elements of the windows, too. There are three brilliant blue circles in the main window above the church’s front doors. Once restored, she asked if those were new, but it turns out they were simply cleaned.
“Looking at it from the outside, you can’t appreciate it at all. We’ve seen them from the inside. But when you see them from the outside redone, they’re just stunning,” she says.
The people seeing the windows within the church still don’t know who donated many of the windows. The sources for this story emphasized that if community members have any information about certain windows, please share with them.
Because the church is a landmark in the community, architectural elements should be kept as original as possible, Schoenknecht says. By keeping it maintained, the church is illustrating its commitment to the community. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re stubborn Norwegians. In a good way,” Covyeau jokes.
For the rededication service on June 12, The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church invites all interested in attending. “Everyone is always welcome,” Covyeau says. During the service, some dignitaries will potentially speak about the project, and a choir will sing a Norwegian song to celebrate the light of Christ shining into the church.