History of our Stained Glass Windows

The Story of Our Church Windows

Written by Rev. Margaret Beck, Edited by Phyllis J. Anderson
Union Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Three Lakes, Wisconsin

In preparing for the church’s 85th anniversary celebration, I came across Rev. Margaret Beck’s script for the 1963 service of dedication for the stained glass windows in place at that time.  I found her words to be very interesting and thought you might, too.

I have edited Rev. Beck’s original presentation somewhat, mainly to shorten it, and have added an update describing the windows which have been installed since 1963.

Photography was done by Les Anderson with my thanks.



On August 25, 1963, all of the stained glass church windows, which had been installed in the Union Congregational Church up until that time, were dedicated at a service led by Rev. Margaret Beck, who gave background information on each window.  The text following herein is a synopsis of her talk, plus an amendment to include the history of the windows later installed in the newer narthex.

August 25, 1963

Rev. Beck speaks from the pulpit: “Some years ago, we decided to start a memorial window fund.  The idea took hold and the fund began to grow.  Relatives and friends of deceased members or those whose final services were held here in the church made donations from time to time, and interested members of our summer congregation contributed to the fund also.

The lovely windows of crystalline glass at the back of the worship area were presented by Mr. Fred Dobbs many years ago.  The one on my right with its Easter lilies symbolizes the resurrection of our Lord and eternal life through him.  The other one, portraying the young Jesus in the Temple, is self-explanatory from Johann Heinrich Hoffman’s “Christ and the Doctors”.

The triptych, or set of three, at the back of the church was dedicated a few years ago and was designed by Dennis O’Brien of Minneapolis.  The center window, portraying the parable of the Good Samaritan, was presented to the church by Dennis O’Brien and his wife Inberne Lawrence O’Brien in memory of Mr. Arthur Kuney and his wife Ella Bardwell Kuney, longtime members of the Three Lakes community.  Mrs. Kuney, while not a member of this church, was a faithful worker in it and she was herself a “Good Samaritan”.  She was the aunt of Mrs. O’Brien and our Miss Maud Lowen.

The side windows of the triptych are in memory of members of the church.  The one of the Holy Bible with Easter lilies is the symbol of the Word of God which points the way to eternal life.  The one with the dove may represent the Holy Spirit, but, since this dove bears a green twig in its mouth, it perhaps also represents the dove Noah sent forth from the Ark.

The four windows on the west side of the sanctuary bear symbols of the Four Gospels.

The first, St. Matthew, is in memory of Susie Kuehl, mother of Clark and Don.  She was a beloved member of our Community and a member of our church for several years prior to her death.  The symbol of the winged creature with a man’s face represents St. Matthew because his gospel narrative traces Jesus’ human genealogy.

The St. Mark window was presented by family and friends in memory of Fred H. Dobbs, a member of longstanding in this church.  The winged creature with the lion’s face is the emblem for Mark because his narrative begins with ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness’, and this suggests the roar of a lion.

St. Luke, represented by the winged creature with the head of an ox, which is the symbol of sacrifice, is the emblem for St. Luke, since Luke stresses the stoning sacrifice of Christ.  The window is in memory of the Reverend and Mrs. Noble Conkle.  Mr. Conkle, as many of you know, was a former beloved pastor of this church who remained in the community until his death in 1950.  Mrs. Conkle passed away in January.

The emblem for St. John is a winged creature with an eagle’s head.  The high soaring eagle is the emblem of this gospel because in his narrative the author rises to the loftiest heights in dealing with the mind of Christ.  This window is a gift of Mrs. Lois Swantz, a member of the Congregational Church at Union Grove, Wisconsin and a faithful attendant at our services here during the summer month.

Turning now to the side room, (formerly the Sunday School chapel), we come first to the window of the Ten Commandments.  This seemed an appropriate reminder for our children and for ourselves, too, to walk in the ways of the Lord as presented by these Commandments.  This window was presented by members of the summer congregation who wished to remain anonymous.

The center window was presented by the family and friends of Dr. and Mrs. I. A. Koten of Naperville, Illinois, who for 35 years came north for their summer vacations.  The emblem in the window represents the artist’s conception of the cedar tree which abounds in our forests and is the symbol of faith and immortality.  The son and daughter chose this symbol because their parents loved this north country with its forests and lakes.  Dan Koten, the son, is working for his doctorate in forestry and that was a determining factor in the choice of emblem,  too, I imagine.

The next window seemed appropriate for Sunday School because children love the story of Noah’s Ark.  Friends of the church made this window possible.

Our final window, (Editor’s note: while originally in the Sunday School chapel, it now is installed at the west end of the worship area) in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Fred G. Dickerson, is a gift of their son Reed and his wife Jane.  Reed chose the symbol of the lyre because of his mother’s love of music.  The Dickersons were also lovers of this north country and spent many summers here.

This church has been blessed and is blessed today with many friends who represent different branches of the Christian church.  We are very grateful to them for their interest and help.  God bless you, each one!

At this point I should like to say that the windows in this room were designed and made by Dennis O’Brien, with the exception of the two windows in back of me.  He had also made the designs for the windows in the side room and had the glass ready to be processed when his studio was destroyed by fire.  He made arrangements with another church glass studio in Minneapolis to work on our windows there, but he passed away very suddenly last winter before he could do them.  So a new artist and a new studio had to complete our order.” – (A short dedicatory service, ending with a prayer by Rev. Charles Wick, followed.)

Since 1963 several building projects have necessitated some of the windows being moved, others being added. A window on the east end of the corner meeting room shows the Lamb of God and was presented by friends of the church.

The new entry-way provided an excellent place for our last four windows, dedicated on September 3, 1995.  Featuring the four seasons of God’s world of nature, they seem very appropriate in their setting here in our church in the Northwoods. This group of windows was designed and executed by Maria Calvert of Image Glass Studio in Minocqua.

The autumn window, depicting a fox in the forest, was provided as a memorial to Henry Dobbs by his family and friends.

The winter window, a snowy scene with pine tree and rabbit, is a memorial to Dorothy and Dave Stokes.

Norman (Doc) Carlson is memorialized with the spring window, featuring deer with fawns.

Summer in our lake country, complete with loon and lotus, is featured on the window for Earl (Corky) Evenson, remembered as a leader of our youth group.