Luncheon benefits last phase of Clarksville church windows project

Clarksville United Methodist Church organist Joanna Brock plays a hymn in front of one of the panes scheduled for renovation as part of the last phase of the congregation's “Save Our Stained Glass Windows” project. A carved wood depiction of Jesus Christ's last supper is in the foreground. The church will host a soup luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 as part of Clarksville Eagle Days.
Brent Engel
For the Courier-Post
Posted: Jan. 21, 2019 11:45 am

More than ever, members of Clarksville United Methodist Church are finding truth in the first book of the New Testament.

A passage from Matthew says that with God, nothing is impossible. The tiny congregation sees that happening as it nears the end of a huge project to restore the sanctuary’s original 111-year-old stained glass windows.

The parish is hosting a soup luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, as part of Clarksville Eagle Days. The menu features homemade chili or chicken noodle, hot dogs, chili dogs, chips, dessert and beverage. The soup is $4 a bowl, hot dogs and homemade desserts each cost $4, and chili dogs $5. Chips and a drink are $1 each. Diners may pay at the door.

“As always, we love to see guests who have come to see our majestic, soaring eagles,” said Janie Busch, one of the organizers. “We welcome them to come in out of the cold, sit and relax over a hot meal, and chat over a homemade dessert and a hot cup of coffee, tea or chocolate.”

The “Save Our Stained Glass Windows” campaign began in October 2014. All four sides of the building feature panes of vibrant, elegant colors with Biblical symbols, the names of previous pastors and pioneer members.

“We were presented with a mighty task when we started,” Busch recalled. “The beautiful stained glass desperately needed repair and protection. We are a small congregation, and the sum needed seemed impossible.”

Thanks to community events such as the soup luncheon, tithing by church members, a grant from the Missouri United Methodist Foundation and contributions from individuals and families in Clarksville and beyond, more than $60,000 has been raised. Art Glass Unlimited of St. Louis finished work on three sides between 2016 and last year.

“Three of the four sides are now completed and we are very close to being able to call Art Glass Unlimited to tell them ‘Come on up, get to work,’” Busch said. “A good, cold and hungry crowd at Eagle Days will make that a certainty.”

The final part of the renovation should get under way in the next few months. While it might seem a difficult proposition for a church that rarely has more than 15 people at Sunday services to raise such a large amount of money, Clarksville United Methodist is known for not shying away from big projects.

The roof was replaced in 2007, steeple work was done during the building centennial in 2008 and basement and kitchen renovations were completed in 2013. The church at the corner of Highway 79 and Howard Street in the downtown area also has gotten worldwide publicity for opening its doors to volunteers who battle ever-more-frequent Mississippi River floods.

Busch says completion of the Save Our Stained Glass Windows campaign is proof that God answers prayer.

“When we were first presented with the estimate, even the most faithful and optimistic church members felt defeated,” she recalled. “We were promised the estimate would be good for 10 years. We prayed and discussed the seemingly impossible task. Then, the answer was ‘All we have to do is take the first step.’ As soon as we made that commitment to our church and our community, the reply came back ‘With Me, all things are possible.’”

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