First Presbyterian Church

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Architect: Harold Wagoner, FAIA

The Jack P. Smith Memorial WindowDove
5.0' w. by 11.2' h.


This was a very special project for me. The Jack P. Smith Memorial Window was presented to First Presbyterian Church in memory of my father by my mother, brother, sister and me. First Presbyterian Church has been a central part of my family’s lives for over a hundred years.

From above the main entrance to the Narthx, this window welcomes worshipers to the house of God. Its white glass cross remains visible during the day and can be seen glowing at night from the street. Once inside, the curvature of the vaulted ceiling subtly extends down into the stained glass symbolically separating Heaven above from Earth below. Austrian lead-crystal prisms sparkle in daylight, projecting unexpected rainbows into the Narthex during winter months. Darker glass in the upper corners create a rounded top that reiterates the arched, Romanesque Nave Windows in the Sanctuary.

God the Father is represented by seven rays radiating from the Cross as reminders of God’s power and generosity. The rays are made of mirror-like, color-shifting dichroic glass which appears as golden mirror when seen from outside during the day (or from the inside at night). When looking out during the day, the color of the dichroic glass unexpectedly shifts from blue to magenta and finally yellow as you move closer and closer to the window. The “rays” lead to seven prisms representing the seven days of creation. The tiny rainbows they project symbolize Gods unexpected gifts and presence.

Although I didn’t intend this when I designed the window, my Aunt Shirley noticed the comforting hand of God reaching down from the top of the window. Such a detached hand was a common Medieval symbol for God the Father. Is He presenting us with his greatest gift represented by the Cross or reaching down to comfort us or both?

Twelve dichroic “flames” around the cross represent the twelve disciples and the Word of God radiating out into the world. The descending Dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s inflowing comfort and presence. The Dove is made of a airy, French opal glass. When I first showed this design to my family, they also saw a lily, an early Christian symbol for resurrection.

The light, airy palette in the upper window represents the spiritual enlightenment that we seek through Christ. The billowing background in the lower part of the window is not only a darker counterpart to the lighter Heaven above, but represents the maze-like paths we follow here on Earth. The red border symbolizes our Earthly, corporal reality an,d together with the green glass accents, represent all living things.

OTHERS COMMENT:

On behalf of First Presbyterian Church of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, we wish to thank you for your amazing window, God’s Gifts. Not just a simple stained glass window, but a piece of indescribable work dedicated to and designed for giving glory to God and enhancing with great magnificence and stunning light our place of worship. This is truly a crowning achievement, and it will magnify our worship to God in so many ways, both seen and unseen, that we can’t even begin to count them.

Rev. Lance Clemmons & Thomas E. Brown, Clerk of Session, First Presbyterian Church, Pine Bluff, Arkansas


Materials: German, French and Polish mouthblown glass, domestic rolled glasses, Austrian lead crystal bevels, Dichroic Glass, lead and solder.