Nation’s Largest Stained Glass Window to be Installed at Southwestern Seminary May 7, 2001

Nation’s Largest Stained Glass Window to be Installed at Southwestern Seminary
May 7, 2001

FORT WORTH, Texas C What is believed to be the largest stained glass window “ceiling art” in the United States will be installed in a new continuing education building at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, May 16 and 17.

Kristina Hemphill Boesch, daughter of Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill, designed the window, which is 20 feet in diameter. She is flying in from her home in Richmond, Va., and will be available for interviews May 17. Boesch, 26, has been a graphic designer for the International Mission Board the past two years. Prior to that she served as a missionary in Bulgaria for two years.

Foster Stained Glass in Bryan, Texas, is manufacturing the window. Manager Quint Foster says it took 12 weeks to produce the 2,800-pound window from Boesch’s drawings.

Four men from Foster Stained Glass, including Foster and his father, will first install an eight-piece frame that will be suspended 30 feet above the floor on steel cables below a skylight. Eight sections containing four glass panels – for a total of 32 sections of glass – then will be installed in the frame. The installation process is expected to take 24 hours.

The stained glass window is related to the second half of the seminary’s theme, “Touch the World…Impact Eternity,” and is based on a passage from the last chapter in the Bible. A “legend” or display below the window will explain the drawing.

Boesch said her painting for the window portrays John’s vision in Revelation 22 where the apostle saw the “throne of grace” and the “river of life.”

“There is a lot of symbolism in the window,” Boesch said. “The light at the center of the window represents the throne of grace. The blue encircling it represents the river of life. Around the blue glass is green which represents the tree of life bearing fruit in season.”

The 12 angels pictured represent the angels standing at the gates of the new Jerusalem. Boesch said she also included wheat in the drawing to relate this stained glass window to the one in the Ray Riley Alumni Center. The wheat represents the “redeemed,” or those who have been brought to eternal life.

Foster said it is only the second time they have installed a window like this. The first was the 16-foot window at the north end of the same building which portrays the first half of the seminary’s theme, “Touch the World,” based on Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed.

The Jack MacGorman Conference Center, the major part of the $20-million Ralph M. Smith Leadership Development Complex, opens in June. The center contains 65,000 square feet of meeting space for more than 1,250 participants in theater-style seating, full banquet facilities, and state-of-the-art technology to meet conference needs for the seminary and local churches and businesses.

By 2002, the 130,000 square foot complex will feature 57 guestrooms. Currently, 32 luxury guestrooms are located in the adjacent Ray I. Riley Alumni Center that opened in May 2000.

The complex also features the Bryce English Garden, styled after the beautiful gardens found throughout England. The garden will feature a polished, 36-inch black-granite sphere weighing 2,300 pounds. A map of the world will be etched into the granite. The ball “floats” on a cushion of water as it sits on a marble base weighing 6,300 pounds. The seminary hopes to have the sphere installed in August.

The stained glass is machine- and hand-rolled, 1/8-inch thick opalescent glass. Foster used hand-painting techniques to achieve “the designer’s look.” Backlights will illuminate the window at night.

“It will be a spectacular reflection on the floor,” Foster predicted. “I think it’s an incredible design. Hopefully the execution will do justice to the design.”

Terry Caywood, Southwestern’s director of business services, said Foster Stained Glass was “highly recommended.” Boesch and Tim Leitch, director of the seminary’s physical plant, had visited Foster Stained Glass and viewed samples of the company’s work when Boesch designed her first stained glass window for the seminary’s prayer room in 1996.

The Ralph M. Smith Leadership Development Complex is named in honor of the long-time pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.

The conference center is on the southeast corner of the graduate school’s campus. From Interstate 35W take the Seminary Drive exit and go west 1.4 miles. Turn left onto James Avenue. Turn right at the building on Boyce Avenue.

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