Taking Sanctuary

The room that we call the “Sanctuary” in our building is more than an auditorium.  It is a place designed to clear our minds of the things of the world and to focus our thoughts on God.  It is filed with traditional “Churchy” elements that help bring about this environment.  Let’s take a closer look at some of these “tools” that we can us to bring us into a closer worship experience with God.


Altar Table

sanctuary-Altar-100_1880-300x213The altar has its historic basis in the altar of the Hebrew Tabernacle (and Temple) where the animal sacrifices were made.  Following the Levitical Law, the sacrifices made on this table were intended to atone for sins and bring us back into a right relationship with God.

But in our Christian faith, we believe that Christ made that sacrifice once and for all by his death on the cross.  And so, on the center of our Altar Table is the cross, which symbolizes that sacrifice.  The table also holds the candles which symbolize the Holy Spirit’s presence with us as we worship.  The altar table also holds an open Bible, which symbolizes the yielding of our thoughts and will to to God’s Word as contained in the scriptures.


Altar Rail

Although physically separated from the Altar Table, the rail and kneeling pad along the front of the Sanctuary is functionally connected to the Altar Table (or simply “Altar”).  The Altar was (and is) a place where we humbly meet with God to confess our sin, acknowledge His holiness and authority, and to open ourselves up for change.  The Altar Rail is frequently used for celebrating the Lord’s Supper (Communion), Commissioning people for special missions, or for the giving of our financial gifts or commitments.  Kneeling before God adds a physical sense of humility and submission, and the altar rail is a special place for prayer.


The colors of the “banners” and of the cloth on the alter table aren’t just for decoration.  The colors are symbolic and remind us of the cycle of the Christian calendar .

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In the Christian tradition a system of colors is used in stoles, paraments and banners to symbolize the seasons of the Christian year. Green is the color of Kingdomtide, and is used to symbolize our growth in faith as we follow the teachings and ministries of Christ.

On the left banner are wheat and tares. The wheat represents the good crop, the faithful. The tares are the weeds, the wicked. Both will live side by side until the day of judgement. (Matthew 13:24) The alpha and the omega (the beginning and the end), symbolize the everlasting nature of the divinity of Christ.

On the right banner are grapes on the vine which represent Christ and His disciples. With the wheat they signify the bread and wine of Holy Communion. The symbol on the banner is the Communion chalice. On the altar and pulpit paraments the cross represents the atonement of Christ, and the redemption of man. The equilateral triangle represents the Holy Trinity; God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, being equal, yet one.

To learn more about the Christian seasons and colors used, check out this “Chuck Knows Church” video.


Stained Glass Windows

Before the advent of printing, the lessons of our faith were taught through an oral “story telling” tradition and through the use pictures and Stained Glass windows.  In today’s literate world, where almost anyone can read the Bible, today’s Stained Glass Windows don’t teach facts or history as much as they illustrate God’s majesty and inspire us to worship.

The windows lining the top of our Sanctuary tell  a chronological story of God’s relationship to humankind, and they also serve to inspire us to engage ourselves into that story. All of the windows were donated in memory or honor of family members; they are indeed a “cloud of witnesses” as we gaze around the perimeter of the sanctuary.   Let’s take a brief “tour” of our stained glass windows…

(Note: click on the “Learn More” link to see the image, and click on the image to get a bigger view).


1- Nativity Window 

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Starting on the left side of the sanctuary is a set of windows depicting the supernatural birth of our Lord (As we say in the Apostle’s Creed: “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin…”).  The first panel shows the birth in a manger in Bethlehem, while the remaining two panels depict the appearance of angels to the shepherds.

2- Baptism  Window 

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In Luke 3:16, John the Baptist  explained, “I baptize you with water.  But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”     The next window shows the scene described in Mark chapter 1 where John Baptized Jesus (“the one more powerful than I”), and God marked His son with the Spirit like a dove and a voice saying “You are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

3- The Last Supper  Window 

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Some one thousand years earlier, the day that we know as “Holy Thursday” was foreshadowed by the first passover.  This meal recalls when the Hebrews were saved from the plague and set free from Egypt.  Jesus turned the tradition around when He became the passover lamb.

4- Crucifixion  Window 

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The first Good Friday was the darkest day in history, but it fulfilled God’s plan of salvation for us.

At the center of our Sanctuary, and in the center of our faith,

is the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5- Resurrection  Window 

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Windows-RessurrectionHot flames blazed throughout our sanctuary, but the large stained glass window in the front was miraculously undamaged, and we were able to install it in our new sanctuary when our current building was completed in 2007.

In December of 2003, our church building on the corner of Broadway and Holy Ave. burned down. This window depicts the first Easter Morning when the women came to the tomb expecting to anoint a dead body.  But, instead they discovered a risen Lord who anoints us with His Life.







6- Walk to Emmaus Window 

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Luke 24 tells us the story of two gloomy disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on that first Easter Day.  A stranger joins them on the road, and it isn’t  until the breaking of the bread that they realize that they had been walking with the Risen Lord all along.

7- Ascension  Window 

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“He ascended into Heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” The next window depicts the Ascension described in Acts chapter 1, when Jesus left Earth to return to the Father.

8- Pentecost  Window 

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In John 14, Jesus promised that He would not leave us orphans.  He said that He would send the Holy Spirit.  Acts chapter 2 describes the scene depicted in this window, when the power of God in the Holy Spirit was given to His disciples.

“9- How Great Thou Art”  Window 

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This final window completes the story of our Lord Jesus as depicted by the windows around the perimeter of the sanctuary.  The final stanza of the hymn “How Great Thou Art” looks forward to the time “When Christ shall come with final acclamation, and take me home; what joy shall fill my heart.”  As we consider the awesome love and redemption offered by God through His Son, we stand with the author of this hymn and “Exclaim ‘How Great Thou Art!!!’ “

“10- Come Follow Me”  Window  This window is located in the rear of the sanctuary, above the balcony.  It was preserved from the old building and is not part of the chronological story depicted by the other windows.

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Windows-FollowChildrenFishersThis three pane window was originally located in the chapel of the old building. It depicts three separate incidences of Jesus’ ministry.

The first is the story of “The Rich Young Man” as described in Mark 10:17-22.  We must let go of the things of the world in order to lay hold of Jesus.

The middle pane illustrates the story in Mark 10:13-16 where Jesus tells us that we must be as little children- innocent faith, fully trusting our Lord- in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The third pane is the call of the disciple Peter along the shores of the Sea of Galliee.  This is told in Mark 1:1-20.

 Video Tour

Check out the following short tour of our sanctuary as presented by Lee Whitaker (PUMC member)…


A Holy Space

To enter the sanctuary from the Narthex, you must pass through a small room.  This darkened room helps prepare you for the transition to the light and largeness of God which becomes apparent as you enter the sanctuary.  Once inside the sanctuary, you are beneath the low ceiling formed by the balcony.  But as you walk down the center aisle towards the Altar, the low ceiling gradually gives way to the large open space of the sanctuary.  Once you’re past the low ceiling, the light from the open steeple, high overhead, floods your view (and your mind).  To worship God, our minds must be humbled and our spirits must be turned to something greater than ourselves.

The following rendition of “Holy, Holy, Holy” takes you from the snow covered beauty of the church grounds into the awesome presence of of God.  Join in the walk from the parking lot into the sanctuary.  Be still and know God…


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