Our Stained Glass Windows

Many who visit our sanctuary are struck by the blue stained-glass Window in the north wall.  It is one of the few places in Columbus to memorialize what was known for many years as the Great War, despite the immense impact which that War, and related events, had on America and the world. With great help from Angela Finney who has been researching and organizing old Church records, we know  some of the history relevant to our Memorial Window. It reflects not only the end of the Great War on what used to be called Armistice Day – 100 years ago this morning - but also two other terrible, contemporaneous events that impacted those who worshiped here 100 years ago.

The impact of that War is difficult to overstate. 53,000 American service members are recorded as dying in combat, out of about 4.7 million Americans in uniform. Our country only had 103 million people back then – less than a 1/3 of what we have now. So, nearly 5% of the population served in uniform. 
Numbers of American deaths and casualties were far less than comparable numbers in Europe. Civilian and military deaths on all sides are estimated at 17 million, plus 21 million more wounded. Beyond the war casualties, large-scale genocide was waged against the civilian population in Armenia; and displacement by the Great War resulted in millions of refugees, particularly in France, Belgium, Serbia, Greece and Italy. Fittingly, on All Saints Day in November 1914 only a few months after the War began the Pope said: “This War is the Suicide of the World.” 
Part of what humanity suffered was a fundamental change in warfare itself. In earlier times battles lasted hours or days; in World War One they lasted months. The Battle of the Somme was underway for 4 ½ months. Verdun was the longest continuous battle in world history, fought over 10 months in 1916. Roughly 500,000 British, French and German soldiers were killed or wounded during just one battle, named Ypres or Passchendaele, which lasted 4 months in 1917.
Estimates of deaths and casualties are huge, but they vary in numbers, because in massive battles fought by tens of thousands of troops accurate identification of individual casualties, and overall record-keeping, proved very difficult. Following the war, France, Britain and the United States acknowledged the many who simply disappeared by erecting Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monuments. They can be found to this day at the Arch de Triumph, Westminster Abbey and at Arlington National Cemetery.

New weapons were employed in an unprecedented, impersonal way including heavy modern artillery, airplanes, tanks, machine guns, submarines, barbed wire, land mines, flame throwers and poison gas. Widespread use of canned food, wristwatches, daylight-savings time, and trench coats were more benign developments during the War. In the end, the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires collapsed, Germany threw-out its Emperor, and the Russian Revolution swept Bolshevik communists to power. Many new countries were formed out of territory taken from old countries.
Records indicate 170 men and 11 women from this Church served in uniform. Three were lost: one died in combat and two from illness while in Service. Roughly 6,500 Ohio troops did not survive wartime service. Interestingly, two people from King Avenue who served were ministers. Dr. Thomas H. Campbell, until 1918 the senior pastor at King Avenue, is recorded as having served as director of Religious Education at an Army camp in Kansas during the War. 

War news would have been a daily concern for those who worshipped here: letters home, newspaper reports and to some extent motion pictures communicated the war experience to America’s civilian population. Chillicothe had Camp Sherman, the 3d largest training base in the United States. Civilians heard about the War at Liberty War Bond Drives, grew Victory Gardens, and had meat-less or wheat-less days in their kitchens as the nation tried to conserve food to feed not only American troops but much of Europe. The federal government even encouraged ministers to preach about the need for food conservation. Civilians heard about the War in many other ways, too. For instance, the covers of Ohio State’s 1918 football programs included drawings of both a football player and a soldier in full uniform, with the caption “Buy Liberty Bonds – Buy Twice as Many!” across the bottom of the page. 

Anti-German propaganda was widespread. German names were “Americanized”: “New Berlin” Ohio became “North Canton” Ohio; “sauerkraut” became “Liberty Cabbage.”  There are even published stories that Columbus saw German dog breeds killed. German Lutheran and Catholic churches switched to English language services, while some schools and colleges dropped German from foreign language curriculum. On the other hand, a Methodist Bishop wrote in the Church’s official weekly newspaper the Northwestern Christian Advocate that “[t]he gospel of hate is not a necessary spur to make Americans fight *** It can be done without resorting to the debasing tactics of Germany herself.”

Aside from America’s 54,000 combat losses and another 204,000 wounded, a related statistic is important too, namely non-combat deaths of servicemembers. They exceeded combat deaths. 63,000 American service-members suffered non-combat deaths of which more than half, historians tell us, resulted from the 1918-1919 flu epidemic.

Called the “Spanish Flu” at the time because it was first widely reported in Spanish newspapers, since that country was not in the World War and had no censorship, the epidemic may well have started to spread in Camp Funston, Kansas. Although troops customarily lived close to each other in Army and Navy installations, allowing illness to spread easily, the Flu pandemic was experienced around the world in civilian populations not just military units. It was the first pandemic since the Black Plague in the 1300’s. It came in waves which varied in intensity. Worldwide something like 30 million people died of Spanish flu. At least one of the three fatalities recorded among service members with ties to King Avenue appears flu-related. 

Everyone, including civilians, was deeply affected by the pandemic. My own mother – age 10 in 1918 – always remembered with great sadness the death of her favorite Aunt at age 25. Not only was the flu widespread and virulent, but it struck hardest at those in their 20’s and 30’s. Scientists now believe that, although young adults have the strongest immune system, when that particular FLU virus attacked young people their bodies released toxins so quickly that they damaged the patient’s own lungs, leading to particularly high death rates in that age group.  

The third catastrophe that affected this Church 100 years ago was fire, which destroyed the church building. It occurred late in August 1918, reportedly when a workman repairing the roof released sparks. The only 14-year old building was destroyed in 2 hours. 

Against that backdrop of War, the Flu pandemic, and the Church fire, the faith and resolve of those worshiping here 100 years ago to illuminate a part of the Sanctuary with this magnificent Window seems all the more inspiring. 

The Memorial Window was crafted by a Columbus firm (which went out of business in the late 1930’s.)  n the 1922 Program re-dedicating the rebuilt Church, the North Window is described merely as “a gift of many parents in memory of the young men and women who served in the great world war.”

The North Window used heraldry – essentially a modern take on the art of the Middle Ages - reflecting the Gothic Revival in architecture popular in the post-WW I period. The words in the Window are somewhat hard to read, but are from left to right “Fidelity” “Mercy” “Victory” “Peace” “Piety” and “Service.”  Most figures are female and understood to be Angels. Two are the Archangel Michael and the Archangel Gabriel. Above Michael is the phrase “They loved not their lives unto the Death” and below is the statement “To Honor the Devotion of All Those From this Congregation Who Served in the Great War.”  Above Gabriel, the words are “On Earth, Peace, Good Will Toward Men” and lower down “To Commemorate the Sacrifice of those who in that Service Laid Down their Lives.”

The Window includes spires, crowns – usually topped by a small cross - and shields. The colors of the shield in the middle are understood to represent the United States; others represent countries allied with America in the War. Several figures are shown holding a sword, but not in a position of attack. Another figure, holding but not wearing a knight’s armored helmet, is on the far right.
Our Window is a memorial to Peace. It mentions the word “Victory” to be sure but reflects little about warfare. Unlike many war memorials, it contains no direct reference to any battle, and depicts no marching troops, airplanes, ships, or other modern devices of war. Rather, gratitude for the peace seems to dominate the space.
Finally, let me relate some information about the three fatalities with close ties to King Avenue Church.

For Frederick and Ada Yerges this North Window no doubt offered a weekly opportunity to remember one of their sons lost in combat. Cpl. Lawrence Yerges – known to friends as “Red” - was born in 1893. He grew up on at 323 West Ninth Avenue, and was one of ten from Columbus North H.S. who died in the War. He graduated in 1915 from Ohio State, where he was Editor of the Makio yearbook and on the staff of the Lantern. After OSU he moved to Connecticut, where he entered service in August 1917 in the 101st Machine Gun Battalion of the 26th Division. Cpl. Yerges fought at various places in France, before losing his life late in the War on October 24, 1918 to wounds from artillery shelling the preceding day.  

Cpl. Yerges is buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France, along with over 14,000 other Americans killed in that last large battle of the War. It is not known if the Yerges family ever visited his grave, but for most Americans it was impossible to travel to France. Undoubtedly a large memorial like this in their home church was very meaningful for the Yerges family. 

Its interesting to note that the Yerges family had another son Howard, three years younger. He too served during the Great War as a junior officer in the Navy. Prior to entering service, Howard had been the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes from 1915 – 1917. Two of those OSU football teams were Conference champions. His son Howard Yerges, Jr. is remembered for playing quarterback for OSU before entering officer training during World War Two. Officer training took him to the U. of Michigan where he then quarterbacked Michigan’s 1947 national championship team. He was the only person ever to quarterback both the OSU and Michigan football teams. 
King Avenue also lost 27-year old 1st Lt. Hurst V. Campbell of the Quartermaster Corps. He never made it to France and was serving in Baltimore, Md. in October 1918 when he reportedly died of pneumonia.  Lt. Campbell was originally from Napoleon, Ohio, and was commissioned as an officer in August 1917 at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. His family lived at 1405 Neil Avenue at the time of his death. 
Private Henry M. Waddell was born in Gallipolis, and was part of the U.S. Army Calvary at the Columbus Barracks from April 1918 until his death in June 1919 from “nephritis” (or kidney inflammation disease). He was only 20 years old. His last address was 35 West 11th Avenue according to Army records.  

As you sit in Church in days to come, reflect on the significance of the North Window. It teaches us a great deal about the faith, and stewardship of those who dealt with terrible adversities in 1918.  

coming soon


coming soon


The five stained glass windows design by artist Russel Hizer represent five phases of the life of Christ.  Treated symbolically in a contemporary geometric design, these windows compliment the clean simple lines of the chapel. From the inside of the chapel, the windows from left to right are:
  • Nativity
  • Teaching - Christ in the temple at age 12
  • Healing
  • Preaching
  • Resurrection
This window depicts the Nativity as recorded in St. Luke and St. Matthew chapters 1 and 2. The nativity star, the most common symbol of the nativity, shines down on the manger from the center of this window. Rising vertically and to the left of the manger is an ancient Chi Rho symbol, which is the monogram of Crhist.  The Alpha and Omega are used in conjunction with Chu Rose signifies that Jesus is the beginning and the end of all things, Revelations 1:8. Rising on the right side of the manger is a conventionalized lily, the Fleur-de-lis.  It is the symbol of the Annunciation and the Virgin Mary. At the upper left, you will see a start, light rays, and three crowns.  This symbolizes the Three Wise Men. Flight into Egypt is symbolized by the use of the outlined pyramid with the wing above it. The sword represents the slaughter of the innocent by King Herod.

Emphasizing the humanness of our Lord, this window symbolizes Christ in the temple at age twelve.  Christ had schooling in his youth and learned a trade. The lamp of knowledge symbolizes wisdom. Christ is represented by the IHC which is an abbreviation of the Greek word meaning Jesus, IHCOYC. We are told of Jesus at the temple sitting among the doctors (high priests), both hearing their readings and asking them questions (St. Luke 2:22). The doctors are represented by the jeweled gold-fringed breast plates. The scriptures and laws (Exodus 28:17-22) are represented by the scroll at the right of the window, while the temple is blocked in the lower left corner of the window. The upper scripture text is Christ's answer to Mary and Joseph when they found him in the temple (St. Luke 2:49). The lower scripture text is from the only biblical reference to Christ from age 12 until his baptism by John.  It is from Luke 2:52 and reads, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and Man."

This window is symbolic of the "healing Ministry" of Christ;  mental, physical,spiritual, and unrest - confusion - turmoil. In green, at the upper right and joined together at their lower ends are four "Tau" crosses.  This arrangement is called the "Cross Potent" and is symbolic of Christ's power to heal diseases of body and soul.  This symbol is the only recognized healing symbol.  The center convolution represents mental, physical, spiritual, and unrest - confusion - turmoil which are subject to Christ's healing power. The incense burner and smoke symbolizes prayer.  It is used to represent healing.  St. Matthew 4:23 reads, "and Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of decease of the people.

Christ's "Preaching Ministry" is the subject of this window.  It emphasizes the Sermon on the Mount and the calling of the disciples, and is symbolic of His call to us all to be Christians.  The Sermon on the Mount is represented as a Chi Rho set up on a mountain top.  Chi Rho is derived from the ancient Greek word for Christ - XPICTOC by using the XP (Chi Rho).  It is one of the most frequently used symbols in Christian art. A Maltese Cross represents the Be-attitude (Matthew 5:8) as a part of the Sermon on the Mount. The New and the two shields represents the calling of Peter and Andrew as they were fishers, and saith unto them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."  (Matthew 4:18) St. Peter's shield shows the inverted cross on which he was crucified, and St. Andrew's shilled shows the "Cross Saltere" which tradition says is the type of cross on which he died.

The last days of Christ's life on earth, the fulfillment of his earthly mission and the triumph of the Christian faith after death are interpreted in the final panel. The cross, the crown of thorns and three nails represent the crucifixion.  The letters INRI on the scroll are scattered through the upper sections of the window. They represent the Latin, "JESUS NAZARENUS REX JUDAEORUM" which is translated to "Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews."  These letters were placed on the cross by Roman Soldiers in mockery. The bursting pomegranate symbolizes the power of Christ who burst out of the tomb, alive, on Easter Morning.  IN a sec ondary way, it also represents the ripening or the completion and fulfillment of the earthly life. The butterfly, possibly the most frequently-used symbol of resurrection, expresses the ideas of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  The three stages of the butterfly (caterpillar, chrysalis, and the adult) symbolizes:
  1. The crawling larva - man on earth
  2. The chrysalis - man in the grave
  3. The butterfly - man's resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.
The ascension is symbolized by a tall, narrow cross with an "X" at the base.

Additional Notes
Former paster, Clair Warden, relate to the author that the small red panel used in the windows depicts the temptations we will all face. Windows at the west parking lot entrance are the Alpha and Omega symbolizing Christ as the beginning and the end. They were completed in the late 1950's.