This post is contributed by Daniel Kessel at Middle Church Collegiate
Although Middle Collegiate Church is in current headlines for its activism around Black Lives Matter and LGBT equality, the congregation’s building speaks to its rich history in New York City. Middle Church has stood at Second Avenue and 7th Street since 1891; this building is the third site of the congregation. The interior of the church sanctuary is in the Gothic style, with a wood paneled ceiling supported by three Howe trusses and five pairs of Gothic spandrels.
The Collegiate Church of New York began on April 7, 1628, making it the oldest Protestant body in America with a continuous history of service. New York’s Liberty Bell hangs in the belfry of Middle Church’s main tower. It sounded on July 9, 1776, heralding the news of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Middle Church is also home to a collection of stained glass windows designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, which are illuminated artificially. Originally designed from 19th-century European paintings, recently a darkening film was added behind the images of Jesus so his complexion would better represent the people of the region where he lived.
Here is a selection of the windows:
1. The Nativity Photo (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – This window is a depiction of the birth of Jesus in the stable.
2. Suffer Little Children to Come Unto Me (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – A reference to Luke 18:16, this window depicts Jesus’ tender love of children, “for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
3. The Visit of the Magi (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – The gospel tells that after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, three wise men traveled far to see him, bearing gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:1–12).
4. Bethany or Jesus in the House of Martha and Mary (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – Based on Luke 10:38-42, this window depicts Jesus’s visit to the village home of two sisters, Martha and Mary. While Martha prepares food in the background, Mary listens to Jesus at his feet.
5. The Resurrection Morning (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – This window depicts Jesus’ resurrection. He can be seen approaching Mary Magdalene, who mourns his death in the foreground.
6. The Disputation of Christ Among the Doctors (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – Based on Luke 2:41-52, this window shows Jesus at 12 years old. He is in a Temple in Jerusalem, amazing his elders with his precocious understanding.
7. Jesus and the Woman of Samaria (Photo by Beatrice de Gea) – Jesus teaches a woman near a well in Samaria that he can offer “living water” that “becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life” (John 4:14).
You can see the windows in person on Sundays at 11:15 am during Middle Church’s legendary Sunday celebrations or during the livestream of the celebration on the middlechurch.org homepage.