April 5, 2013

Window project a test of faith


---- — PLATTSBURGH — The restoration of 19th century painted-glass windows was a leap of faith for congregants of Trinity Episcopal Church here.

But they successfully raised $18,000 through individual donations and the sale of items on eBay.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, the SUNY Plattsburgh Gospel Choir, under the direction of Dr. Dexter Criss, will celebrate “An Evening of Concert Spirituals and Ballads” at the church.

Admission is $15, and all proceeds benefit the window restoration.

Three of the south-facing 1866 windows were removed in early October 2012 by artisans from Rohlf’s Stained & Leaded Glass Studio of Mt. Vernon, N.Y.

The windows were originally scheduled for re-installation last month, depending on the weather.

“As it turned out, it would have been nice to have the windows in place for Easter,” said Keith Wills, chair of the fundraising/window-restoration ad-hoc committee at the church.

“With their own work schedule, they delayed it to April 15, again weather prevailing. They need the temperatures to be 40 degrees or above to re-install the windows.”

The total project cost $51,000. 

“We had $33,000,” Wills said. “That meant we needed $18,000 to make up the difference. Father Colin (Belton) said it would be a leap of faith. We’ve had generous donations from individual members of the congregation. We’re a retired congregation, mostly. There are some younger families.”

John Jewell, a congregant, launched an eBay site where people could donate items to raise funds.

“It’s devoted strictly for the church. I have donated a mantelpiece clock and some watches. Bids came from Germany, England and France. We had a donation of a guitar that brought in over $1,000,” Wills said.

Items went for $15, $20, $25 and $150.

“It all helped bring in the money to make up the $18,000 difference. By the end of March 2013, we had all the money to pay for the windows. It’s fantastic,” he said.

Jewell was a godsend in Wills’s estimation.

“He has really been the driving force of the site. He doesn’t take any cut for having it up. That’s just amazing. He has been a jewel in the truest sense. He’s made it possible with the eBay site.”

The church’s historic windows were purchased by former congregants in memory of family members.

The ad-hoc committee will continue to raise money in hopes of receiving matching grants.

“We want to get some grant monies to do the rest of the windows,” Wills said. “When we go to get grants, we can show we raised $51,000 for the three windows. We’re serious. We’re not fooling around looking for money.”

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IF YOU GO WHAT: "An Evening of Concert Spirituals and Ballads" presented by the SUNY Plattsburgh Gospel Choir. WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13. WHERE: Trinity Episcopal Church, 18 Trinity Place, Plattsburgh. ADMISSION: $15; cash or checks accepted. All proceeds benefit the efforts to restore Trinity Episcopal's historic painted-glass windows. PHONE: For more information, call the church at 561-2244.