God's Test of Faith
RUMBLING thunder shakes the ancient bed-rock under the new brick
building of the United Methodist Church in Hamilton, Illinois. Lightning
illuminates the dark evening sky as primal forces rain water and fire down upon
the earth. In a sudden flash, bricks fly and timbers burst into flames. This
night is to become another one of God's challenges, a test of faith for this
Church members and neighbors are instantaneously roused from their homes and
without hesitation spring into action. Men and women rush into the burning
building, some rescue the new organ from the flames while others recover the
pews, setting them safely into the wet grass a safe distance away. A few of the
faithful climb upon the over-heated brick walls, rushing trust before personal
safety and pull each and every stained glass window from the burning building.
Newspaper records of the incident from 1905 reported that "hot molten lead
dripped down arms of rescuers, searing their flesh".
Methodist congregation was first organized in 1853 on the east bank of the
mighty Mississippi River just south of Navoo. On this day in 1905 the Methodist
faithful are simultaneously devastated and blessed in God's firm hands,
symbolized by their newly tempered souls standing before the smoldering embers
of the now destroyed 4 year old brick church building. A new challenge has
arrived for the forever faithful and like the Phoenix this church shall rise
again. It was rebuilt in 1910 on the same foundation of the recently destroyed
church and the courageously rescued stained glass windows would be incorporated
into the new church building.
Time passes along as surely as the ever-flowing Mississippi. By 1987, old age
has beset this once proud building. The practical 1980's...what to do? The cost
of utilities, maintenance and repair exceeds the cost of a mortgage on a new
building that would better serve the needs of today's congregation.
The decision is made to build a new modern church. Money is raised and plans are
set but not before the heritage of their ancestors is taken to heart. Those
stained glass windows, saved so many years ago by faithful souls must not be
cast aside. Could they be redesigned and incorporated into the new building?
With the help of Bovard Studio, their precious heritage now rests in the
restored stained glass windows that will easily last another 100 years and