This post doesn’t cover one of my typical Ozark hikes, but it does involve walking and a little personal exploration along the way.
When I visited my childhood church recently, I took the Sunday School hour to explore the old sanctuary no longer being used. It has been neglected over the years, but the stained glass windows are as beautiful as ever. I had fun using chairs, speakers, and stairwell handrails as makeshift tripods so I could record these windows that impressed me as a child. I appreciate their beauty even more today.
The windows told the story of Christ’s life. The window above alluded to the betrayal of Christ by Judas.
Roy Hilton preached a sermon series on these windows during the months after they were installed. I must have been in my teens at the time so Brother Hilton would be pleased that I have any recollection of his sermons after all these years.
This window may have symbolized the resurrection, but I’m not positive about this. I liked the butterfly or moth. If you look closely in the top left corner, you’ll notice mortar has chipped away from the wall around the window. I’m amazed at the good condition of the windows themselves.
Roy Hilton was the pastor during my formative years. He was serious about sermon preparation and known as a great Bible teacher. Some of his series sermons could get pretty detailed and heavy. When sermons got too deep or long, I would enjoy some constructive daydreaming while staring at the windows or ceiling.
During my Sunday morning exploration, I couldn’t resist placing my camera on the floor and setting the timer for a photo of this ceiling that is so permanently imprinted in my memory.
Ceiling of the sanctuary
Walking through my childhood church brought back memories of Roy Hilton. He was honest, kind, and trustworthy. He also had a good sense of humor. He was a servant leader in the best sense of the word.
Roy Hilton had a compelling story. I hope I remember this correctly. As a young man, he worked in a whiskey barrel factory. He’d been struggling with spiritual matters and came to the realization that he wanted to commit his life to God. He was working inside the factory as he reached this decision point. His eyes came to rest on a large window on the wall of the factory. He had the vision of seeing everything he valued passing through that window and disappearing into the distance. From that point on he was fully committed to a spiritual life and eventually became a pastor.
Roy Hilton, pastor from 1965 to 1976
I walked through some other parts of the old building and eventually came to one of my childhood Sunday School rooms. Though these windows aren’t beautiful, their foggy colors bring back memories.
Sunday School class window
I followed these creaky stairs down from my old class and returned to the present, thankful for the memories of my childhood church. Some of the beliefs that seemed harsh and unyielding as a child have softened or turned into overarching questions and for this I am thankful. Some of these questions occupy my inner thoughts and give me comfort as I continue down my personal paths.
My childhood church may crumble and fade, but memories of those richly colored stained glass windows will stay with me always.
Etched window in the newer building with the old sanctuary in the background.