bethesda stained glass project

Stained Glass Project

The stained glass window project at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Eugene, Oregon began in 1994 as a celebration of the church’s new Education and Office Building. After the entrance windows were installed, this project picked up speed.

Like Renaissance princes before them, the parishioners of Bethesda chose to celebrate God and their loved ones through art. The church’s 28 stained glass windows are the memorial gifts of more than a dozen extended families plus the church’s Senior Friendship Group. These windows represent an impressive outpouring of faith and celebration and they tell a compelling story about this church and its Danebo neighborhood.

One stained glass window honors a beloved, long-time pastor of this church and his wife, the gift of their grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. Another honors the parents of the current pastor. One window celebrates a fiftieth wedding anniversary, the gift of the children and grandchildren of that enduring marriage. In other windows, parents honor their children and children their parents, wives and husbands honor their spouses, and God is honored by his faithful servants.

Bethesda Lutheran Church takes its name from one of Christianity’s most powerful symbols, water. In the Judean desert where Christianity took root, water was life. Water for drinking, water for crops, water for fishing, water for transportation, water for cleansing. It is no surprise then that water would become the physical medium for spiritual transformation through baptism into the Christian faith.

Bethesda is the Hebrew name for a pool visited by pilgrims who hoped to be healed by its waters. Located in the northeast corner of Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate, it was said that Bethesda’s waters owed their power to a visiting angel. (John 5:2-9)

Jesus and the Ten Pools

Here we feel as if we are walking through the waters of Bethesda. We meet the guiding figure in the faith named in his honor, Christianity. Face to face, Jesus reminds us of the power and example of his life. His blue-eyed gaze dominates these three windows which culminate in the cascade of water flowing from his hands. These are the healing waters of Jesus’ faith symbolizing the renewal of spirit made possible through Christianity.

The pools of water in these windows achieve an amazing dynamism as the raindrops on the right hand side become waterfalls on the left. We see life-giving water rippling and splashing with its vigorous and elemental energy as this window captures light from outside. The number ten also reminds us of Christianity’s foundation in the Ten Commandments.

The artist wanted the donor, Mr. Petersen, to be able to look at Jesus’ blue eyes and see those of his son, Philip. His blue eyes also signify the presence of Christ in all of us. The pattern on Jesus’ robe comes from the design on a ceremonial ax handle brought back from New Guinea by the donor’s sister, Lillie, who served as a missionary there for many years.

These three windows telling of Jesus and the ten pools were given in honor of Philip D. Petersen, Marjorie Hornish Petersen, Lillie Petersen Rasmussen, Ray O. Iversen and Ronald J. Iversen by George and LaVonne Iversen Petersen. The Petersens, who married at the church in 1989, wished to celebrate the lives of their deceased spouses, two sons and a sister. (completed 2004)

In the stairwell stained glass window, Jesus offers the healing waters of baptism from 10 pools to all who enter the Kingdom of God. He is Alpha and Omega, the Savior and King.

The rainbows which integrate many of the windows remind us that even as the water brings judgment, destruction and death, God’s promise of salvation reconciles us to Himself. The rainbow is a sign of this eternal promise.

jesus and the ten pools stained glass
entrance windows stained glass

The Entrance Windows

Entering the church, we walk between the cascading waters of the Bethesda pools that frame twin rainbowlaced waterfalls flowing into Gothic arches, a reminder of the church windows in the previous sanctuary. The round window above depicts the Holy Trinity as three shafts of light piercing a mist floating on Bethesda’s blue waters. A cross floats on those waters as well as a rainbow, the transcendent form of water, symbolizing God’s covenant with his people.

Medallions in each of the three doors represent the Father as a pair of hands with a rainbow, the Son as a cross emerging from a crown and the Holy Spirit as a dove.

The Senior Friendship Group initiated the Entrance Window project. Their dedication, openness to Tenold’s vision and fundraising efforts brought these spectacular windows to fruition.

The entrance windows are “garage sale windows,” the result of successful fund-raising efforts by the Senior Friendship Group. These windows remind us that small, determined efforts can produce big results. Homer and Grace Hansen gave a substantial gift in memory of their parents, Fred & Agnes Ohlsen and Hans & Anna Hansen. Fred & Agnes were lifelong members of Bethesda. Homer’s brother Paul, his wife, Erma and their children honored Homer through their generosity. Homer served this congregation and his Lord faithfully over many years and in many roles. Edith Jones memorialized her husband, William, through the addition of the medallions. William and Edith were members of Bethesda for over 40 years. William was a long time administrator in the Bethel School District. (completed in 1994)

The Sanctuary Arch

As we enter the sanctuary, this glorious, free-standing arch frames the altar on the opposite side. We pass through cascading, rainbow-laced water that shimmers as it flows into several swirling, elliptical pools that invite us into this place of worship. This arch is a work of compelling beauty with its multi-faceted, radiant juxtaposition of clear, beveled, textured and rainbow hued glass, both opaque and transparent. It vibrates with life. This creative structure combines steel, brass and glass. Its rippling glass invites us to feel its sensuous surface. Please do. Touching the glass of these windows is an important part of enjoying them.

The tenacity of the Senior Friendship Group saw this unique arch to completion through continued fund raising through garage sales. (completed in 1999)

sanctuary arch stained glass
The Resurrection Stained Glass

The Resurrection

At first sight, Mary Magdalene did not recognize the resurrected Jesus who has just stepped from his tomb. She still cannot believe her eyes. Jesus stands before her, fulfilling his promise, and she calls him “Rabboni,” the Hebrew word for teacher. As he speaks, his raised arm makes a cross with hers. We see Jesus’ scant profile plus one of his arms and both hands. The amazed Mary Magdalene is the focus of this scene as she listens to Jesus with awe and rapt attention.

The golden vitality of this moment is captured in her face and his gesture. The glass reflects the joy of this glorious moment. Her dress is a mottled yellow and her hair band is a vibrant, intricately worked blue. Like its sister window in this chapel, golden light fills this scene.

The Resurrection Window was given by Bob and Lois Zimmerman in honor of their children and their families. The Zimmermans joined the Bethesda congregation in 1990. They also gave the Crucifixion and Jonah Windows. (completed in 1999)

The Crucifixion

In the first of two windows in the small upstairs chapel, we see the cruel pain of Jesus’ crucifixion. He is shown from the side with his gaze riveted upward, seeking strength. In the intensity of his eyes, the crimson blood leaking from his wounded hands, the anguish of his expression, Peterson has captured the agony of Jesus’ excruciating death, a portrait of his sacrifice. The glass cross takes on the texture of wood, a reminder of the symbolic importance of the “old rugged cross” to Lutherans. The pure golden light of his halo is reflected in more bands of light that stream across his body and seem to support him.

The Crucifixion Window was given by Bob and Lois Zimmerman in honor of their children and their families. The Zimmermans joined the Bethesda congregation in 1990. They also gave the Jonah Window. (completed in 1999)

The Crucifixion Stained Glass
The Creation Stained Glass

The Creation

We are told in the opening lines of the Old Testament that the Spirit of God moved across the face of the waters. In this window, God’s powerful hands are shown in the act of creation as he establishes the firmament of the Heavens by separating the luminous waters above and below it.

The rippling blue of the lower waters comes from a splendid piece of handblown, gold-tinged Fremont glass that was created in Seattle. At night, look for the gold stones visible beneath the surface of this glass. The streams of clear water flowing from God’s left hand to his right hand were hand-beveled to convey the diamond-like brilliance of God’s touch at this elemental moment.

Peterson built a special kiln to fire stained glass for the hands and faces and bodies portrayed in all of these windows. To achieve the flesh tones in God’s hands, for example, he painted stain on the glass before the initial firing at 1200 degrees. He cooled the glass and then painted and fired each piece at least five more times.

The Creation Window was given in honor of Emma Mooneyham and Troy L. (Red) Mooneyham, Sr. by their children, other family and friends. The Mooneyhams, the parents of the Pastor Troy, moved to Eugene in 1993 to be near their family. After Emma’s death, Red married Ruth Stephens at the church three years before his own death. (completed in 2000)

Jesus and the Children

In this glimpse of a sweet moment, we see Jesus at play with two children, a wiggly boy on his shoulders supported by one strong arm and an eager little girl, her head cradled in Jesus’ hand as she reaches up to the boy’s foot. The textures and colors of the glass emphasize the lively poses of the children and, at the window’s center, the serene Jesus. The boy’s legs, in cheerful yellow and white striped pants, frame Jesus’ face. Below him, the little girl seems to be dancing for attention. In the midst of all this joyous activity, Jesus looks directly at us, the still presence at the heart of Christianity.

The boy is mischievously unwinding his own turban made from a unique piece of handsome ribbed yellow glass. The girl’s dress is decorated with whimsical swallows and dragonflies intended to capture the attention of small children. To create these images, the artist sandblasted the blue from two-toned “flashed” glass.

The Jesus and the Children Window was given in memory of the Reverend Ingward Olsen and his wife, Anna, by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Joe & Suzanne Cavanagh, and their sons, Jonathan, Philip and Joshua. The Olsens served this church from 1940 until 1958. Under Pastor Olsen’s leadership, the congregation built a sanctuary and later the Parish Hall and Parsonage. In those early years, the church still offered a monthly service in Danish. Anna Olsen became Bethesda’s first woman Deacon and sang in the choir until she was 85 years old. (completed in 2002)

Jesus and the Children Stained Glass
The Casting of the Nets Stained Glass

The Casting of the Nets

We see Simon Peter in his sturdy wooden boat working very hard to haul aboard the life-like fish entwined in a net. His concentration is central to this scene. Here the church’s missionary efforts have been captured in one of the most important workplace scenes of that era.

In this story, several of Jesus’ disciples were fishing without a bite in the Sea of Tiberius. Jesus’ advised them to cast their net to the right of the boat and they immediately caught many fish. It was said that Simon Peter hauled in 153. After making the catch, Jesus invited his disciples to come ashore for a breakfast of bread and grilled fish. This event marked Jesus’ third appearance after his resurrection.

The artist was delighted when the oily surface of the glass for the fish unexpectedly produced an iridescent pattern when stain was applied. He fired this glass twice, once to set that pattern and a second time for their eyes. The net itself is made of brass wire applied over the glass.

The Casting of the Nets Window was given in memory of Gust and Lena Bonde, and Adna and Dorothy Booth by their children, Elwood and Jean Bonde who have been members of the congregation for more than 30 years. Jean has been a volunteer in the office for 25 years. Elwood, an ardent fisherman, wanted the fish in this window to be “real” and the boat “authentic.” (completed in 2000)

The Wedding at Cana

Jesus stands next to his mother who is pouring from a jug directly into his hand. Mary’s jug of water becomes rich red wine as it flows from her son’s hand. Shown in profile, Mary seems absorbed by something we cannot see while Jesus concentrates his steady, penetrating gaze on us. By making wine from water for the wedding guests in Cana of Galilee, Jesus hoped to offer a first “sign” to his disciples that would demonstrate the power of his faith.

Depicting summer with its festive possibilities, this was the third of the seasonal windows. Jesus and Mary are wearing handsome, holiday attire, hers a brilliant blue and his white with an embroidered pattern of squares. The jug is decorated with traditional designs of the period. The wine-colored glass has been beveled on its edges and then “plated” on the back with extra purple so that its rich color would sparkle.

Jesus in this window appears different from his baby and boyhood selves, but also different from his adult portraits at the time of his baptism, playing with the children and at his ascension. Each portrait is intentionally unique. There are three more faces of Jesus in the windows of the upstairs Prayer Chapel and the stairway balcony. Still filled with amazement at her son, an older Mary is recognizable as the same woman who celebrated her son’s birth.

The Wedding at Cana Window was given in honor of the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Paul and Karyl Jensen by their family. They were married in the church on November 10, 1950. (completed in 2003)

The Wedding at Cana Stained Glass
Noah Stained Glass


We look down at Noah as he has just reached the end of his journey. Touching a rainbow, symbolizing the fulfillment of God’s promise to him, we can feel the wind in his hair and beard as he stands, feet planted solidly on wooden planks in the bow of his sturdy ark. A dove has just arrived bearing a small branch, God’s hopeful message that land is close at hand.

Some of the creatures that Noah has rescued are depicted in pairs on his robe, rhinos, elephants, lions, bears, giraffes, ducks and gulls.

In the folds of his robe we can see giraffes. The robe itself is made of a glass called Cathedral purple and the borders from a piece of clear glass flashed with purple. Both have been sandblasted by the artist to reveal the creatures. Noah’s eyes were painted blue on the back of glass that was stained on its front to create Noah’s face. At night, the clear glass surface of his eyes reflects light.

The Noah Window was given in memory of James Edgar Hyer IV by his wife, Mildred Hyer, members of the congregation for more than 40 years. On the day that the Noah Window was installed, Mrs. Hyer, delighted by the way it had turned out, walked outside the church, looked up and found a rainbow in the sky. (completed in 1999)

Young Jesus in the Temple

At the temple in Jerusalem, we see the twelve-year-old Jesus who has slipped away from his parents for three days. He is shown in profile, making a point with his right hand raised toward two formidable elders dressed in rich robes. Their faces clearly show amazement and surprise at Jesus’ questions and his remarkable understanding. With his left hand, Jesus is creating a rainbow from the waters of a fountain.

Jesus wears a yellow tunic made of a splendid mottled glass. His yarmulke has an intricate trim made by a process called “sgraffito” in which the artist applied a layer of black stain and a layer of gum arabic. He then scraped the surface with a wooden dowel to remove the stain and create a pattern. The glass was fired to set this pattern.Depicting spring, this was the second of four seasonal windows. In it, we see a young man with his storied life ahead of him.

The Young Jesus at the Temple Window was given in memory of Marlyn Nyegaard by her husband, sons, grandchildren, other family and friends. The Nyegaards were members of the congregation for more than 40 years. Marlyn Nyegaard sang in the choir for over 30 years and was a Sunday school teacher. (completed in 2002)

Young Jesus in the Temple Stained Glass
The Ascension of Jesus Stained Glass

The Ascension of Jesus

We see Jesus, literally, rising with his arms uplifted and a look of concentrated awe on his face, his head turned away from us. His face is magnificently alive. Wrapped in golden light, Jesus is flanked by the wheeling wings of seagulls in flight. He seems to be leaving behind a ribbon of orange, perhaps signifying our human ties to the earthly and eternal. The swirling force of this scene is palpable. We can feel the intensity of Jesus being pulled upward as if caught in a tornado.

With its autumn colors, this was the fourth of the seasonal windows. The birds are made of clear glass that was stained. The top bird’s eye is made from a child’s teddy bear. The background glass has one iridized layer making it look different from the other windows, particularly in sunlight. After finishing this window, the artist moved it from the table where he had been working on it. The Petersons then went out of town and while they were gone, there was a big windstorm. One tree fell through the roof of the studio, breaking both skylights and sending a shower of glass and heavy branches onto the table where the Ascension Window had been sitting. The window was unscathed.

The Ascension Window was given in memory of George and Glorane Baelz by their children, grandchildren and friends. The Baelz were members of the congregation for more than 40 years. Mrs. Baelz made the final contribution to the building fund for the Prayer Chapel. Her love of the seashore is reflected in the seagulls in this window and her favorite season, fall, in its golden colors. (completed in 2002)

Jesus Walking on Water

We see Jesus’ faith dramatically at work as he heaves the faltering Peter onto his back and takes a big step on the rippling surface of the water. Both figures are drenched in the light of a rainbow. Peter’s face tells of his apprehension and Jesus’ of his focused intensity. The contrast between the two emphasizes the point of this story. With strong faith, we may be able to do things as impossible as walking on water.

In the moments before this scene, Jesus had gathered his disciples in a boat and then went ashore to pray by himself. When he returned, the boat had been pushed far from land by a strong wind. Jesus walked back to the boat across the surface of the water. Catching sight of him, the disciples were frightened by his ghostlike appearance. Peter called out to Jesus who summoned Peter to walk to him on the water. After taking a few steps on the water, Peter, frightened by the stiff wind, sank. Jesus stepped forward to his rescue, pulling him from the water in this story’s defining moment.

Jesus’ loin cloth is fashioned from “high relief drapery glass.” This richly textured glass is made by working a molten sheet of glass with steel tongs and hooks in a process like pulling taffy.

The artist said that a parishioner told him that this window “spoke to him” by reflecting his own experience of being pulled up by Jesus.

The Walking on Water Window celebrates God’s glory, a gift of the Senior Friendship Group of the church. (completed in 2000)

Jesus Walking on Water Stained Glass
The Birth of Jesus Stained Glass

The Birth of Jesus

Strong and beautiful, the new mother Mary celebrates the birth of her healthy son, lifting him joyously above her head. The two are bathed in starlight while snow falls gently into the calm waters of the sea. Mary’s adoring gaze is an icon of motherhood and Jesus is a lively child already reaching out to his mother. Depicting winter, this was the first of four seasonal windows that face the altar.

The heavenly night sky is a very old piece of clear glass “flashed” with blue at the time it was hand blown. The snowflakes were created later when the artist sandblasted its surface to remove the blue. The brown fringe of Mary’s garment was created in a similar fashion. The elegant blue glass in Mary’s turban is from the now defunct Genesis Glass Company in Portland, Oregon.

It was important to the Gifts Committee that the church windows depict as many women as possible. This is one of four windows dedicated to women. The others show Mary with Jesus at the wedding at Cana, the woman at the well, and Mary Magdalene at His resurrection.

The Birth of Jesus Window was given in memory of Holger Jensen and in honor of Grace Jensen by their children and grandchildren, other family and friends. Holger Jensen served for many years as treasurer and a Trustee of the church. (completed in 2001)

Moses & the Parting of the Red Sea

We meet Moses as he leads his people from dangerous pursuit by the Egyptians. Under a threatening sky pierced by lightening, Moses is buffeted by the east wind and his face is filled with amazement that the Red Sea has yielded passage just as God instructed. Staff raised in hand, he marches with determination toward a crimson, wind-whipped wave that marks his forward path through the now dry bed of the sea. This is a portrait of a commanding leader at the moment he has met the test of his faith. It is alive with motion.

The magnificent glass of the stormy sky is one of the most impressive that the artist had ever come across. Hand-blown from two colors, it came from the Fisher Glass Company in Germany. Moses, in Hebrew priestly garb, wears a brooch made to look like a piece of carnelian.

Moses’ face was created through a complicated process of cutting, staining and firing the glass. The first face broke during firing. The second, sitting on the light table in the artist’s studio, was ready to be fired when a fire broke out. By the time the Petersons discovered it, the fire had already burned much of the light table and nearly destroyed the studio. To their amazement, the unscathed Moses was resting upon the shattered glass of the light table unharmed by their “pillar of fire.”

The Moses Window was given in memory of James Larsen, Aage Toftemark, Walter and Marie Andersen, and Tobe Gould by their family and friends. All those honored were decades-long members of the church. (completed in 2000)

Moses & the Parting of the Red Sea Stained Glass
The Woman at the Well Stained Glass

The Woman at the Well

The Woman at the Well is a striking figure, both strong and beautiful, shown from the back with her face in profile as she pours water from a jug over Jesus’ hands in response to his request for a drink. Jesus, depicted solely by his cupped hands, responds by giving his “living water” to her in the form of a rainbow. Their dialogue is complete in this moment.

In this parable, Jesus engaged an unknown Samaritan woman in conversation, a breach of that era’s conventions on two counts. Casual social contact was forbidden between a man and a woman and between Jews and Samaritans. Jesus also knew of this woman’s checkered past with five husbands and a live-in boyfriend. Jesus explained to her that his water would provide the inner spring of eternal life. She immediately asked for it and, leaving behind her own jug, returned to tell other Samaritans that the Messiah had come.

Her magnificent dress was created from “ring mottled” green glass. Her headband is confetti glass, a process that incorporates broken pieces of different colored glass. Her jewels were cast in molds.

The Woman at the Well Window was given in memory of Marlin LeRoy Outka and Judith Karen Outka by their parents, Linton and Marian Outka, who have been members of the congregation for more than three decades. (completed in 1999)

The Pool of Bethesda

In the New Testament, the Pool of Bethesda was described as a place where the blind, the lame and the paralyzed might be healed in waters made potent by an angel’s visit. We see the hands of this angel with rainbows flowing from them. A third rainbow, signifying the promise of new life, crowns the background portico. Jesus performed his first healing at Bethesda, helping a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. The black water of the pool reminds us that the actual Pool of Bethesda is now underground.

The red glass of the rainbows is infused with 23-carat gold. The steps and pillars of the portico are defined by highly polished brass. The angel’s hands are made from an antique clear glass that was stained and fired multiple times. The rocks immediately in front of the portico are also unusal glass. The artist was surprised to discover that the beveled glass of the rainbows captures light from the motion of cars passing on the street outside. Amazingly, this movement creates the effect of light appearing to pass between the angel’s hands and the rainbows.

The Pool of Bethesda Window was given in memory of Fred Riehl,a member of the congregation for more than two decades, byhis wife Ann. (completed in 1999)

The Pool of Bethesda Stained Glass
Jonah and the Whale Stained Glass

Jonah and the Whale

The ashen-faced Jonah, struggling to keep his head above the waves, is suspended in swirling water alongside a formidable creature that will soon consume him. He is one stroke away from his fate. This whale has a wild ruby eye and a magnificent green brow. The rippled blue glass in this window emphasizes the stormtossed power of the water. This is the moment of Jonah’s hopelessness.

In this story, Jonah refused an assignment from God to go to Ninevah and escaped by sea. His disobedience was blamed for a terrible storm and the ship’s crew threw him overboard. He was then swallowed for three days by a “great fish” which finally expelled him onto the shore. After these ordeals, Jonah chose to obey God’s command.

The Jonah Window was given by Bob and Lois Zimmerman in honor of their children and their families. The Zimmermans joined the Bethesda congregation in 1990. (completed in 2001)

The Baptism of Jesus

Dripping water, Jesus stands in a calm pool of the Jordan River as ripples radiate out from his body. His arms are lifted above his upraised face as the light of heaven pours down on him. We can feel the heat of this diamond light against the midnight blue of the sky. Notice the subtle cross where the heavenly light meets the halo, foreshadowing Jesus’ later suffering and death.

Jesus’ body began with clear glass that was “flashed” with a layer of blue at the time it was hand-blown. Then it was sandblasted to remove the blue from all but the streams of water. Next it was stained using a technique akin to oil painting and fired in between each application of color. The life-like flesh tones are layers of tan, red, green, several different browns and black. Tan and red make the flesh tones, green creates the shadows of the face and black defines the individual features. The eye color is painted onto the back of the glass and fired at a lower temperature. This technique makes the clear surface of the eyes reflect light as real eyes do. Jesus’ halo is made of clear glass stained silver.

The Baptism of Jesus Window was given in memory of Fred Riehl, a member of the congregation for more than two decades, by his wife Ann. (completed in 1999)

The Baptism of Jesus Stained Glass

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