Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Parishioners Create Church Stained Glass Windows

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published December 8, 2011
For the volunteers at this Forsyth County church, the chance to work with a craftsman gave them the opportunity to add beauty to Good Shepherd Church.

The work wasn’t easy, but the novice volunteers had fun creating the stained glass windows.

The Baptism stained glass window was the first of the seven windows completed by the parish crew of stained glass artisans trained by Gordon Guyett. It took nine months to complete the entire project. Photo By Michael Alexander

“My husband says all our DNA are in the windows,” said Tina Wright, who spent a lot of time wielding a soldering tool to keep the glass segments in place. The 38-year-old parishioner works as a laboratory analyst. Cutting the glass left little nicks that drew blood, requiring many bandages.

The months of work during evenings and mornings did not deter the volunteers. They designed the seven windows to feature the seven sacraments of baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation, marriage, holy orders, and anointing of the sick. The stained glass designs replaced clear glass in the church.

“This ministry and doing these windows was one of the greatest things I’ve done at this church,” said Eva Selman, 59, who designed the window displaying the anointing of the sick.

Gordon Guyett, 74, a longtime parishioner, directed the 30 novices. A retiree from General Electric, Guyett has turned a hobby into his own business, Guyett Stained Glass.

“Not everyone knows me, but they know the windows. Everyone is appreciative of the windows,” he said.

Guyett’s first step was spending several evenings with some 60 parishioners to talk about design principles. From that group, a smaller group of volunteers, mostly women, stepped forward to design the windows, which stand about 55 inches tall.

“It’s amazing what you can find, the talent you can find in a group,” he said.

Father Frank Richardson, pastor of the church, said the group has added to the church life.

“This was done by parishioners, most of whom had never made stained glass windows in their life,” he said.

This stained glass image of Confirmation is one of seven sacraments depicted in the windows at Church of the Good Shepherd, Cumming. The windows were the work of some 30 volunteer parishioners trained by Gordon Guyett to design and construct the windows. Photo By Michael Alexander

The old clear windows didn’t allow privacy in the church and served as a distraction, he said. The new windows also serve as lessons, as people see the artwork and identify more with the sacraments, he said.

The parish celebrated the window installation with a blessing and a reception, he said.

Part of the project included designing the window borders with hundreds of leaves as part of a master pattern. The leaves, drawn on paper measured to fit the window opening, were cut and attached to green glass. The glass was later cut by hand.

Each window also has a centerpiece of art. Hands extended over a head symbolize reconciliation; a chalice and wheat show the Eucharist. A cruet, chalice and host, along with a hand extended in blessing, depict the anointing of the sick.

Selman’s mother passed away and she remembered the experience of a priest visiting to celebrate the rite. “That was just close on my heart,” said Selman, a longtime parishioner and elementary school teacher.

After roughly 350 hours of work, the windows were installed on the north and south sides of the church. The group also did two smaller windows, replacing smaller clear glass panels.

The volunteers left their mark on the work like artists of every age. Many etched their initials into the windows.

“It’s only visible to people who know it’s there,” said Selman.