Looking Forward

Nov 19, 2020

However well we have managed with online worship services for the last 8 months, we are all looking forward to a time that we can again worship together in our sanctuary. But this interval has also been a blessing in disguise. Not only has it been an opportunity to put our finances on a much better forward path to the future, it has also been an opportunity to do some very much needed upgrades and renovations. One upgrade you may notice immediately is a major expansion of our in-house Internet service, currently under way. Not only does this give us 10 to 100 times faster and more reliable service, it also eliminates “dead” zones within the building, caused by vast amounts of steel and concrete that Internet signals cannot penetrate. Sunday services from the Chapel already have far fewer technical difficulties, and when we resume services in our Sanctuary, we will need the same high-performance capabilities.

Exterior View of Westminster’s Rose Window

When we can again be together in our Sanctuary, we will also have something else to look forward to, literally. The Rose Window (as seen above, pictured from outside) at the front of our sanctuary was given to us in 1929 by the grandparents of Norman Andrews, who many will remember. The window was, in fact, designed by Norm’s father, Harold Andrews, and is the featured window in our brochure describing all of our magnificent stained-glass windows. But the intervening 90 years have not been kind, and this window is now greatly in need of restoration, along with some of the other windows, but that’s another story for another time. Many of these windows, and this Rose Window in particular, are darkened with age, cracked, bowed, or actually broken in places (the picture below shows an example of bowing).

Such problems may not be easily seen until you get up close to examine them. But if you come to the church this winter, you may not see this window at all, as it is being removed by professional craftsmen from Willet Hauser Associated Crafts for renovation in their facilities. The window will be completely rebuilt in the original pattern, preserving only the glass itself and the stone tracery after thoroughly cleaning both. The craftsmen will install a temporary covering for the winter, and next year we can look forward to this window being reinstalled in the original decorative stone tracery, with an extra clear protective covering on the outside. We will then again be able to sit in our sanctuary, and look forward to see this window in all its original glory.

The window removal process began several weeks ago, but was immediately halted due to an anticipated concern that could not be evaluated until scaffolding was erected, allowing a close look at the interior stone tracery supporting the glass. Major cracks were discovered (as shown in the picture above), allowing portions of the stone to shift as the glass was being freed, and risking total disastrous collapse if removal continued. Professional stone masons from AJS Masonry Inc were consulted, and in the ensuing discussion and examination between them and Willet Hauser, it was decided that the stone tracery must be repaired before continuing the glass renovation. That is expected to start immediately, with glass removal resuming upon completion. Alas, to continue the domino effect, during the short time that glass removal was underway, dust was generated that ultimately settled in the choir pews. That is easily cleaned, of course, but not if that same dust had settled within the organ console or organ pipes. And masonry repair is guaranteed to generate enormous amounts of dust that could easily damage our priceless organ, regardless of the diligence in attempting to contain that dust. Our organ maintenance company L.A. Carlson was consulted immediately. At their recommendation, the organ console and all the pipes are now wrapped to prevent damage, and will remain so until glass removal is complete.

These skilled services from professional craftsmen are not cheap, of course. All of the work including removal, disassembly, cleaning, repair, reassembly, restoration, and reinstallation of the glass, plus all the masonry work, is being paid from this year’s and next year’s budgets, funded by your pledged contributions. The organ protection is being funded from unused portions of the music budget. Total cost is estimated at about $75K. If you wish to help with any of these projects, you may do so either with special donations or by pledging support to our annual Operating Budget. Please donate generously. Thank you in advance for helping maintain our historic building.

Forrest Holroyd and family have been Westminster members since 2004. He currently serves as Treasurer and is a member of the Board of Trustees. Some of his interests have been replacing the 80-year old pew cushions in the Sanctuary; installing hearing loop sound systems for the hearing impaired in the Sanctuary and Assembly Room; and arranging for free refurbished computers both to members needing them and to our African mission teams. With other church members, Forrest is actively involved with many work projects around Westminster.

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