It’s a rare thing for an old church to add a stained-glass window.
Even more rare: The radiant spirits behind it. The new “angel window” at St. Paul’s Episcopal glows brightly, but so did late donor Peggy Ann Powell Daniel and her grandmother.
Judy Phillips said that Peggy had donated funds from her portion of the Paul Powell Charitable Trust for the church kitchen renovation. Peggy considered a plaque honoring her late grandmother, but after the kitchen completion decided to do an angel-window.
Peggy had said that Mary Sarah Falls Powell was her angel. And an angel to others too, wrote Peggy’s daughter Nancy Duffy: “[She] was known to take food off her own plate to feed the hungry.”
Peggy, too, “gave to so many different charities, churches and individuals…time and money.”
Nancy feels blessed to have helped her mom, Judy, Betsy Freund and Nancy Hoback select just the right window in early 2011. (Peggy died in December 2011.) They interviewed companies and looked at books; Peggy fell in love with the glorious Tiffany design.
Much artful labor went into its creation at Iowa’s Bovard Studio Inc. — which had restored the original Tiffany window. I joined passersby in watching some of the daylong installation by Field Crew Supervisor Chris Dieter. (Side note: Chris said his journalist dad shot the memorable photo once used as a Shriners logo: a fireman carrying a child.) And Judy gave special credit to SPE member Jim Clippard, who donated many hours of woodworking skills.
“It’s so beautiful!” said Nancy. “It took my breath away when I saw it for the first time…. It’s hard to find the words to tell you what the window means to me, dad [Wimpy Daniel] and [brother] Jerry.”
Western light beams through a golden-haired angel in a field of Easter lilies (and live ones flanked it during Easter). In a small beverage-area visible from the parish hall, it illuminates a once-humble room — kind of like Peggy herself did every day.
“It’s a good location; hospitality and fellowship were important to her,” said Betsy.
Ah, I thought, like the Biblical reminder “to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” And how beaming Peggy fit writer G.K. Chesterton’s line: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”
A project started to honor one woman now honors two. The plaque reads “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Mary Sarah Falls Powell and Peggy Ann Powell Daniel.” And: “For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:11.”
A dedication by Rev. Jim Lively – himself recently, blessedly “installed” as rector – was set for Sunday, April 15, with Judy, Betsy, Mary Coleman Arnold and Nancy Smiley as the reception committee.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 42 E. Main St., Salem. Bovard Studio Inc. of Fairfield, Iowa. www.bovardstudio.com