A piece of history
The First United Methodist Church of Williamstown plans to begin the restoration process for its historical, stained-glass window this spring.
By Krista Cerminaro
You might have passed by it driving down Main Street. Just under the clock at the top of the large, white church, the ornate stained-glass window lies centered on the face of the First United Methodist Church of Williamstown, reflecting its blue, pale red and greenish-yellow colors in the sunlight. To say it’s been there for years would be an understatement.
The church dates back to 1860, and its intricate stained-glass window was installed seven years later.
According to church member and trustee chairperson Babette Wise, the window was paid for by local farmer and entrepreneur Joseph Simmermon, who requested it be dedicated to the soldiers of the Union, to honor Civil War veterans.
“If anyone lives in Williamstown, or Monroe Township for that matter, they’ve probably driven past First UMC hundreds — maybe thousands — of times. We’ve been at the corner of Church Street and Main Street [since] 1860,” pastor Joshua Mularski said. “Generations of people have come and gone, and seen the church on the corner.”
More than a century and a half later, the window — which depicts a large marble column wrapped by a banner that reads, “In memory of the soldiers of the Union” — is in need of restoration, and the FUMC has taken steps to begin the restoration process around April 9.
“The trustees oversee the buildings and grounds of the church, and we have begun to notice, a couple of years ago, that there seemed to be some sagging of that large window. There had also been a little bit of water infiltration, and the molding around the window looked like it needed some repairs,” Wise said, noting the church was encouraged to have the window restored. “We were encouraged to do something about this, because the window could fall out — begin to fall — and we don’t want to see that happen.”
The restoration process, which will consist of removing the window section by section, is intended to preserve its history rather than replacing it entirely. Once the restoration work is complete, the window will then be reassembled.
The project is estimated to take about six to eight weeks, and cost almost $31,000, and the church’s building fund — which helps support upkeep of the church and other major projects — will help contribute to the project’s costs.
“As people from the church give toward the building fund, it’ll help to pay the cost down for the window,” Mularski said. “Right now, it’s really the people of the church coming together and deciding they want to continue to preserve this great piece of history, for the church and for the town.”
The plastic cover protecting the window, which has become cloudy, and “lost its luster” over the years, according to Wise, will be replaced as well.
“We hope that it will be a more visible and more clear, attractive-looking window. And, safer,” Wise said.
“That window — not only is it something that for our church is historical — but it’s remembering a pivotal time for our nation. So to me, I think it is a way for us to not only continue to root ourselves in some of the great history of our nation, but it also is a reminder that we here at First UMC in Williamstown, are continuing to stay relevant [and] stay connected with our past, while also embracing our current needs as a community.”
Although FUMC is taking the next steps in preserving their historical value, they have also taken steps to implement new changes in what Mularski refers to as an “ever-changing” world.
“I kind of consider this the ‘something old, something new’ — we’re restoring, and staying connected with part of our past through the window, and some of the other things we do with the church, but we, at the same time, have a lot of things we’re trying to do with an ever-changing world,” Mularski explained. “We’ve got a new contemporary service, we’ve got a new mothers group that’s starting for young moms, we have a food ministry that provides meals for the community once a month, and so we see ourselves as staying rooted in our history, but also embracing our present and the future.”
“The church is the hope for the future,” Wise added.
For more information about First United Methodist Church in Williamstown, visit www.1umcwilliamstown.com.