The windows in the Sanctuary nave of Highland Baptist Church, installed in 1971-72, are an artistic expression of the church’s gospel. The windows, beginning with those closest to the pulpit, follow the spectrum of the rainbow in their colors – red, gold, green, blue and violet: enveloping the worshipers with the colors of the rainbow, reminding the believers that they are the objects of covenant love.
The ten windows around the bottom of the nave take up the theme of Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” They depict the Apostles and representative saints who have preceded the Church of the present.
The following descriptions of the windows were written on the occasion of the dedication of each window by the artist, Robert Markert, in conjunction with the pastor at that time, Don Burke.
The first two windows on both sides of the church closest to the pulpit depict the twelve Apostles. These two windows are basically red, the strongest of the primaries in glass. Red is the symbol of love and zeal. It refers to the love of Christ, the Commitment of the Spirit at Pentecost and the blood of the Martyrs of the Church. At the top of the windows there are fish and nets. The fish is one of the earliest symbols for Christ and Christians. It was one of the secret signs and symbols early Christians used to keep from exposing themselves unnecessarily to the enemies of Christianity. The Greek word for fish (pronounced ichthus) is formed by using the first letter of each of the words in Greek: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” The fish also symbolizes faithful Christian evangelism. Matthew 4:19 states: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” The Apostles were the original and closest followers of Christ and the leaders in the spreading of the faith. They stand under the fish and nets, symbols of their calling by Christ. The Red Window on the Grinstead Drive Side of the Church Dedication: “In Honor of our Parents by Dr. and Mrs. James Childers” The Red Window on the Cherokee Road Side of the Church Dedication: “In Memory of Lamkin, Zeigler and Legangood”
Both of the Prophet windows are amber (gold) and are situated next to the red Apostle windows. At the top of both of the windows is the flame symbol. It is a cosmic symbol suggesting heat and passion, alluding to the fact that the prophets defended and protected with all their strength the faith of God’s chosen people. It is a symbol of the spirit which guided them in their teaching and leadership, and it is a symbol of the love they held for God and His people. Flame is also one of the most common and recurring symbols found in nearly all of the prophetic writings. The Gold Window on the Grinstead Drive Side of the Church Dedication: “In Honor of Our Parents by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Robinson”. The Gold Window on the Cherokee Road Side of the Church Dedication: “In Memory of Our Families by Amelia and Tallie Gardner”
THE WOMEN OF THE BIBLE WINDOWS
The branches and leaves at the top of the next two windows symbolically relate to the character of women and their role in the Bible: the tree of life and root of Jesse. From Eve to the mother of Jesus the women carry the life blood of the people of God, and it is from those women and the women followers of Christ that our own Christian heritage is given life and substance. The Green Window on the Grinstead Drive Side of the Church Dedication: “Glory to God from Many Who Love Him”. The Green Window on the Cherokee Road Side of the Church Dedication: “In Memory of Our Parents by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Shouse”
The top of the next two windows uses the symbol of water as the main motif. Water is the symbol of life; baptism is the symbol of initiation into the Christian life. The water of the Jordan and the water issuing from the rock struck by Moses are also pictured. The rocks symbolize strength, steadiness and steadfastness. It is felt that all these qualities pertain to the life and spirit of the twelve people portrayed in these two windows. The Blue Window on the Grinstead Drive Side of the Church Saints Who Were Precursors of and/or Greatly Influenced the Baptist Movement Dedication: “Given by Mr. and Mrs. Gaines Wilson” The Blue Window on the Cherokee Road Side of the Church Early Baptists Dedication: “In Memory of John J. Fritsch and George W. Limper from Mrs. John J. Fritsch In Memory of My Family – Irene Morgan In Memory of William L. Doolan, Jr., by Wife”
UNITED STATES BAPTISTS WINDOWS
At the top of this window are two buildings. The one on the right is the first Baptist meetinghouse in Boston, Massachusetts; the one on the left is the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, Roger Williams’ church. These building symbolize the early beginnings of Baptist life in America. The Violet Window on the Grinstead Drive Side of the Church Dedication: “In Memory of my mother, Mary Warfield Allen by Dr. John D. Allen”. The Violet Windows on the Cherokee Road Side of the Church, Kentucky and Southern Baptists Dedication: “In Memory of Joseph Judson Brooks, Margaret Brooks Withers, Frances Brooks Jones by Margaret Keyes Tate”
The Revelation Window
Dedication: “Given In Memory of Dr. Lamar W. Neblett, 1890-1963 by Mrs. Neblett and Martha Frances”
The book of Revelation is the theme of this westward-facing window. The window is a statement of the glory that is to come as described in Revelation 1:4: “Grace be to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come!” The window is a statement of Christ’s coming glory, not only as judge, but as Redeemer. It is a depiction of the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of the King – Messiah’s glorious return – the solemn enthronement and future reign over God’s people. Revelation 1:6 proclaims: “He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings and priests to serve his God and Father…”
At the center of the window are two obvious focal points which constitute the two most important images in the window. Portrayed are two of the distinctive references and names given to Jesus Christ in the book of the Revelation. One is “Son of Man” used in connection with our Lord’s vocation as judge. All judgment is finally committed by the Father to the Son because he is the “Son of Man.” The second reference is to the Lamb. This is the symbol of our Lord as sacrifice and the maker of atonement. Artistic liberty has intermingled the elements of these two titles. The Christ figure stands in a gesture of judgment, and he is enthroned in the seat of authority as described in the first chapter of Revelation with the seven stars in his right hand and the golden girdle around his waist and holding the sword in his left hand. He bears in his hands and feet the bloody marks of his sacrifice. His face, nevertheless, has not the glowering and our look of stern judgment, but the look of the all powerful one who can smile contentedly with the knowledge that it is indeed “finished” – that things are as God intends them to be. The Lamb sits enthroned upon the book with the seven seals. His position, though he is a symbol of sacrifice and atonement, is a position of pride, and his head is framed by the banner of victory, the banner of resurrection. These two symbols are completely encased in red, the color of love and sacrifice.
Revelation 4:3 reads, “and the person sitting there looked like a diamond and ruby.” These two stones are also known in the Bible by the names Jasper and Sardius, or crystal and ruby. The crystals in our window as in the Revelation are a symbol of joy and triumph.
Behind the Son of Man and the Lamb stand the four and twenty elders dressed in robes of white. Enclosing all of these figures are the depictions of the “four living creatures.” They have green wings for two reasons: green is the color of life, and green is complementary to red and best encloses and controls the large mass of red. The number “four” symbolizes the universe in the book of Revelation. These beasts are depicted as giving unceasing glory to God for his creation. The figures of the lion, bull, man and eagle suggest all that is noble, strong, wise and swift in the created world. The root symbolism here derives from Ezekiel 1:5-21.
Above these figures are the seven angels with the seven vials and the seven angels with seven trumpets. They are all set in crystals and blues and move with great power and energy. Flanking the two main figures are figures robed in white and standing in red with palm branches, the symbols of victory. “These are the people who have been through great persecution and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb,” they now stand around God’s throne and serve him day and night (Rev. 7:14-15).
In the bottom left of the window is the “woman clothed in the sun.” She is standing on the moon with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. The woman is a symbol of Israel as the mother of the Messianic Savior and the Messianic Nation (Revelation 12, Micah 4:9-10, and Isaiah 66:7).
Under the feet of the Son of Man is the figure of the Archangel Michael slaying the dragon and pushing him into the abyss. In the right bottom panel of the window are the figures of the four horsemen, symbolizing the four scourges which God, through the prophets, has threatened apostate Israel. The first rider is on a white horse and carries a bow and wears a crown. He is the symbol of tyranny and oppression. The second rider on a red horse and carrying a sword is the symbol of war. The third horseman rides a black horse and holds a pair of scales. He is the symbol of famine. The fourth rider, on a pale green horse and carrying the scythe of death, is the symbol of plague.
At the very bottom of the window are the figures of the three beasts. The middle beast, the one being cast down by Michael is the dragon, the symbol of Satan. To the right of the dragon is the beast of the land and is the symbol of false prophets. The beast on the other side is the beast of the sea, the symbol of the false Messiah or Antichrist. This trinity of evil will be defeated!
The book of Revelation is a complicated but exquisitely beautiful statement of victory! Only a few of the symbols in Revelation could be used in the window. The Revelation is an epic of Christian hope, the victory song of the persecuted church. The window gives expression to this hope with the total effect of color and motion. There is a swirling mass of energy and strength portraying the fact that the forces of our lives and all the universe are pointed to the future victory of Jesus Christ. We are all saints washed in the blood of the Lamb! The imagery of the figures is broadly done, with no attempt to be completely literal. Every angel and every minor figure is drawn with its own character trying to say that we are all single persons relating individually to Christ. And yet the figures still read as a total mass, as an impression of the multitudes of the glorified. The area at the bottom of the window in which are found the beasts is darker and more chaotic than the rest. Here the differences between light and dark and the clashes between colors are more pronounced. This is done to give more tension and the feeling of upheaval and struggle with the beasts. The center portion of the window where are found the son of Man and the Lamb is much stronger in color that the other areas, but it is also more stable and calm in basic line. The angels surrounding the Son and the Lamb, the saints, and the four living creatures impart the energy and motion of a new heaven and a new earth. And so, we may also say with Christ in the words of John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me, to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
The Fellowship Hall Windows
In 2008 and 2009, Robert Markert returned to Highland to extend the “Cloud of Witnesses” theme to the Fellowship Hall. Basing the images on old photos, books, traditional iconography and imagination, Bob painted the saints free-handed, then fired each glass for several hours in a kiln to achieve their distinct look. The windows were then installed atop the clear windows in Fellowship Hall.