Stained Glass Window Project



October, 2008

Our Church Windows

Unless you have been absent from church lately, you know that our board of trustees, in response to the concerns of our members, has decided to commit it’s efforts to replacing the painted glass church windows with actual stained glass.  Our good fortune to be able to acquire the complete stock of a glass shop going out of business was an amazing start to our project.  We were also able to get the temporary use of the old Moore Appliance building as a place to begin work.

How can I help??  You may personally help with your TIME, TALENT and GIFTS to this project.  As we have stated before, the success of our volunteering and funding efforts will ultimately determine the success of our project.  Della and Mel Stephenson, who have a long background in stained glass projects, have agreed to supervise our efforts.  Please let them know if you might be interested in helping out. We anticipate posting a dedication list which includes the names of past (or present) members and families to which we could dedicate a window.  One could then dedicate any amount toward that window.  We are open to suggestions as to who to include on the list.

September, 2008


The beautiful painted windows in our church which we enjoy every Sunday have been a part of our church experience for many years. However, those of you who help clean our church know that one of the chores in cleaning the san
ctuary is picking up and vacuuming the peeled paint that is continually falling from the windows.  The Trustees of the church have been discussing for the last year or so about what to do.  Repainting has not been a good solution because it doesn’t look as good as the original and the sun’s ultraviolet rays continue to remove the paint as fast as we put it on.  It was recently decided that perhaps now is the time to take the major step of constructing and installing real stained “glass” windows.  It turns out that we have some expertise in the art right here in our church.  Della and Mel Stephenson have worked with stained glass for years.  Others in the community have also expressed interest in supporting and helping the project.

A positive sign occurred this week when church member, Elaine Marricle, noticed in the paper that a stained glass shop was going out of business in Albuquerque and all of their glass along with tables, tools and equipment are for sale at a nominal price.  We will be picking up these materials this Saturday.

Although building stained glass windows is not a small nor an inexpensive undertaking, doing the work ourselves can make it possible.  The job will, undoubtedly, take several years and we will need a great deal of support and encouragement from our church.  We expect to fund the project through donations and memorials for loved ones.

We will be starting on one of the back windows in the next few weeks.  Please consider asking how you can help.


In August, 2008, our board of trustees decided that the maintenance necessary to keep our painted glass windows in the church looking good was becoming futile.  The sun’s rays, especially on the south side windows, made it next to impossible to keep paint on the figures and the multiple touch-ups detracted from the windows beauty.  Therefore, the trustees voted to do whatever it takes to replace the windows with stained glass.  This is a huge undertaking for our church and we expect the project to take several years.  Please consider donating your time and/or resources to this worthwhile project for our church.

We decided that the best way to show the history of the project, was to reproduce, below, the newsletter articles over the duration of the construction.

Stained Glass Project

The stained glass project is underway and more people are getting  involved.  One big and important event was the naming of a panel of interested people to determine what exactly we are going to do.  The  panel will decide on the specific themes and style of the scenes.  This  will include determining to keep some of the more modern scenes or making all biblical or church scenes.  We will also need a decision on how to structure the scenes.  Della and I have some ideas we would like to share with the panel and provide some suggestions made by Kyle and Erin of Albuquerque Art Glass located at 405 Montano Rd. NE.   Kyle is a professional artist (my words) who does beautiful work and is very knowledgeable of glass painting and firing  to make the paint last for a thousand years (his words).   He also teaches from beginner  stained glass up to painting on stained glass and fusing glass for effects.  Della and I think it would be a good idea if one person would 
take the class on stained glass painting and then come back and teach  other interested people working on our project.  Kyle suggested that we look at stained glass windows in other churches (St. Michaels on Montano Rd. about a half block west of 4th.  Della and I did go see the church and were not impressed with the style of most of the face  features but the concept was fine.

Della and I have started an interior window (in the partition at the  back) to show an example of how it would look.  The photo shows the  progress which is about 2/3 complete of having the glass installed.   Then we need to solder all joints and put in putty.  We will then copper and/or black patina, as appropriate, the came (lead/zinc parts).  The  photos below shows Della at work on the diamond grinder putting the finishing touch on the glass edge and some of our tools and work place.Glass Working Tools

Phil Levy and Jason Fastnacht have put-up scaffolding in back of the sanctuary in preparation for stripping the windows in the back and making  patterns of each window.  After the blank patterns are made, Della and some of the other helpers will make specific patterns of how the glass will be arranged with the color  and other details in accordance with the decisions made by the review  panel.  Then the real work begins of making a “cut pattern” to stick and orient on the glass for cutting the glass.  Then comes the really fun work which is beginning to assemble the glass in the metal (zinc) frame and making alterations to each piece so that it fits in its proper place.  There are several  more steps that are required before the basic window is completed and will be discussed in a workshop before helpers begin the process of making the windows.  We will also be discussing the techniques for getting the desired detail on each piece of glass and how the overall window is installed in the church window frames.

I hope this has been helpful in trying to show the enormous task that is before us, but with the help of the many volunteers and the donations that we expect, the job will get done.  Just do not expect the job to be completed in a month or two as it could easily take as much as a year or two.



Glass Working Tools

Della Stephenson shaping glass

November, 2008

Stained Glass Project

There has been progress in the stained glass project as the first  interior window has been completed and installed. Phil Levy has finished stripping the paint on the first set of windows and will be  applying stain shortly. The sketches for these two windows, Jesus in the Garden and a Methodist Cross, has been completed and the pattern making will start shortly after the Stained Glass Panel meeting to discuss the  path forward.  In addition, Della and Mel have finished the glass inventory and sorting the glass by color and design.

Three people, Ruthie Moon, Jan Cool, and Mel Stephenson have signed-up to take a class on stained glass painting and firing on November 11, 2008 in  Albuquerque.  Each participant has offered to pay their own class fees, which will save the church $750.00.  They will lead in all our painting needs and teach others that may be interested in glass painting.  This technique of painting stained glass and then firing the glass will make the painting as permanent as the glass itself.  Firing of the glass will be done in the kiln at the same place where we take the training at a cost of $15.00 per firing.

We are hoping to start working at the glass shop (“Shaw’s Cafe” on Main Street) Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting next week, November 3, 2008 from 9:00 AM to about 4:00 PM  This will give those that want to help an opportunity to get in some meaningful time.



Our Board of Trustees has decided the most appropriate way to fund our Stained Glass Window Project is through memorial contributions.  This will make it possible for members and friends of the church to create a lasting tribute to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed away or to honor a friend or loved one.   Your tax deductible donation,
whether or not you remember or honor someone, will help purchase the glass, tools, and supplies necessary to complete our church windows replacement project.  There are about 50 windows to be replaced of greatly varying sizes and complexity.  Therefore, the cost per window varies greatly, probably from around $300 to $600.  Because of this wide cost variability, we will not be “selling windows.” but just taking donations for the project.  Memorials and honorees will be placed on brass plaques near the window sills at the base of the window groupings. 

If you would like to make a tax deductible Memorial or Honor Donation to the Stained Glass Window Project please send your donation, payable to: the Estancia Untied Methodist Church along with: (1) your complete mailing address to receive a receipt, (2) the name (as you would like to have it read) of the person you are remembering or honoring i.e., “In Honor of Mary Smith” or, “In Memory of Mary Smith” and (3) make a notation that your contribution is for the Stained Glass Project.

Please mail your donation along with the appropriate information to:

                        Estancia United Methodist Church

Board of Trustees

P. O. Box 126

Estancia, NM 87016


Mel Stephenson installing the first stained glass window!

December, 2008

Stained Glass Project

The stained glass project is progressing very well.

Ruth Moon and I have just completed a stained glass painting class and completed the face,  hands, and one visible foot of Jesus in the garden window.  Other major  accomplishments are:

Bill Simms has built two work tables and three project boards (all are  currently in use).  He is now working on a third

Don Fitzner and Gary are replacing two eight-foot light fixtures that did not work as well as a light switch in the restroom.  Don also provided a small refrigerator.

Jan Cool bought a new microwave oven so we can heat water and snacks.   Della provided a coffee maker and small refrigerator.

The “Methodist Cross” window is about 50% complete.  This means all the glass is cut and half of the glass and came has been assembled.  The  window should be ready for installation in about a week or so.

The Nativity scene window, being worked on primarily by Jan Cool,  is about 25% complete.  We are trying to have this window complete by  Christmas.  Jan thinks this is a very ambitious schedule, but I like to set goals high for us and with God‘s help we can do it.

Della has just started the “Jesus in the Garden” window.

  1. Phil Levy has finished stripping and staining the “Methodist Cross” and “Jesus in the Garden” window frames and is well along on the Nativity scene windows.

The faces and hands (14 total pieces) of the Nativity scene have been sketched by Ruth Moon and I have cut all the glass so Ruth can start painting the pieces.

The Church Fantasy Bazaar resulted in over $600.00 for the  project.  The team made a number of stained glass items that sold-out at the Bazaar.

Pastor Spooner continues to help out in many ways from cutting out patterns, helping select glass, and assembling tools.

As you can see a lot is going on and a lot of people need to be thanked for their participation and contributions to the project.

Also be watching for a write-up in the East Mountain Telegraph in the next couple of weeks. A journalist is coming next Monday, December 9, 2008 to do a story on the project.  This will give us an opportunity to tell our story that this a community project and everyone is encouraged to contribute in some way.

-Mel Stephenson


Mel Stephenson, Della Stephenson and

Jan Cool measuring for new windows

Children making “Stained Glass Windows” in Sunday School

Volunteers Tackle Church's Stained Glass

Replacing all 53 windows will likely take 4 years

By Laura Nesbitt

Mpuntain View Telegraph   

Thursday, 11 December 2008 09:31


A handful of people have committed to what may be a lengthy project to install stained glass windows in the Estancia United Methodist Church.



"It's just a hairline crack so we left it in. It gives it character."

But most of the time, she added, if a piece breaks they throw it out and begin again.

    "You just have to work through it. You just start over," Della Stephenson said.

    About half of the time consuming process is taken up with preparing a pattern for the image, Mel Stephenson said.

    Marcia Fitzner sat cutting and placing small stained glass pieces into a puzzle-like image using bent lead. Fitzner walked over to a grinder several times to perfect the curve of one piece.

    "No wonder they charge so much for these things," Fitzner said.

Even choosing the correct color sometimes takes Della Stephenson several days.

    According to Mel Stephenson, glass has a grain not unlike wood and ignoring the grain in one piece can ruin an entire design.

The group hopes to partially finish the centerpiece image, a representation of the Nativity Scene, on a large window at one end of the church in time for the Christmas holiday.

Designing, painting and assembling the pieces of stained glass into various religious scenes for 53 windows in the church will probably take at least four years, said Mel Stephenson, parishioner and Torrance County planning and zoning board chairman.   

The stained glass windows will replace previously installed painted windows from 1958, according to church material. The paint is peeling on the window scenes which were repainted by Ray Darnell just two years ago.

The largest windows in the church are composed of several windows and stand about 20 feet high. The group paints faces, hands and feet on the characters in the scenes which are made up of individual pieces of stained glass. Once the entire scene is completed, it is fired in a kiln in Albuquerque.  Stephenson and the group began the project about a month ago after a go-ahead by the church's board of trustees, who had been trying to convince Della, Stephenson's wife who has experience working with stained glass, to take on the project.  "She's been putting them off because it's a really big job. But one of the ladies in the church saw an advertisement on the Internet. Some guy was selling glass. He sold them all his stuff for $1,000," Stephenson said.

Getting the stained glass jump-started the project. Then Larry and Patsy Gustin let the group have what was once the Rexall Drug Store in exchange for payment of utilities, so they began in earnest.

On Monday, Della Stephenson walked around giving helpful hints to a group who had assembled at the old drug store.

Even Della admits that she struggles when the glass breaks.

"I had one break on me on Saturday," she said.

Nick Griffo helps to unload tons of glass

January 2009

February 2009

MARCH 2009

APRIL 2009

MAY 2009

June, 2009

JULY, 2009

AUGUST, 2009







MARCH 2010

APRIL 2010

MAY 2010

JUNE 2010

JULY 2010




Stained Glass Window Project

The stained glass project continues to go very well.  The Methodist Cross window is completely assembled and soldered on one side and should  be ready to install in about two weeks.  The nativity scene lower center window and the Jesus in the Garden windows are about half assembled. Perlene Lutrick and Pastor Spooner completed their Christmas gift projects and they did a really good job on them.  Perlene also donated $100.00 to the stained glass project.  It was a real joy to see how they took to doing a stained glass project.  Perlene made a beautiful lamp shade and Charley made a Fan Lamp featuring a hummingbird.

Ruth Moon completed painting and the required firing of the faces and  hands for the total nativity scene (14 pieces).

Phil Levy has now stripped the north and east windows in the back of the church and will start on the southeast windows in early January.

Marcia Fitzner and Della have been working together to assemble the Garden window.  Marcia has really taken to the grinding of the glass to get a good  fit.

Bill Simms and I will be fabricating a stained glass window installation tool and the wood trim for some of the windows in early January.


Methodist Cross Window

Stained Glass Project

It appears the initial problems, common to all projects of this magnitude with mostly inexperienced personnel, are under control and progress is increasing every day.  The Methodist Cross window was installed on January 24 and only the trim and finish remain. We will wait until the lower window is installed to complete the trim and finish.  The other two windows, Jesus praying and the first Nativity scene, that are being worked on, may be installed on January 31.  The second window of the Nativity scene has been started and should get finished and installed in February.

The Methodist Cross window was featured on the front of the Church bulletin on January 25 from a picture taken by Pastor Spooner following the installation.

Della will teach a beginners stained glass class on Saturdays, February 7 and 14 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  Lunch will be provided following the class. The first class is already full (6 students), however, if anyone else is interested in the class, please let Della know and she will advise you if there is a cancellation.  If there is enough interest, Della may schedule another class later in the year.

-Mel Stephenson

Mel Stephenson putting finishing touches on Methodist Cross window

Ladd Hagmaier and Mel Stephenson installing our first stained glass window!

Methodist Cross window finally in place!

Window #2

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Window #3

Della Stephenson and Marcia Fitzner finalizing center Nativity window

Stained Glass Project

The stained glass project continues to accomplish a lot of good work.  The beginners class, held in February, resulted in some beautiful small projects by a number of people and will provide some additional help on the windows.  I think all the students received a greater appreciation of what it takes to make a stained glass project or a window.

We have installed the third window and the trim to the first two installed windows. Phil Levy stained the trim and it gives a good indication how the windows will look when finished.  Jon Shively really did a good job fabricating the trim.  We also have two other windows ready to install and several other windows started.  As Pastor Spooner stated, it appears that we go along without much sign of accomplishment and then we have a spurt of a lot of work being done.

It appears we will lose the use of the scaffolding we have had borrowed for the last several months in order to install the stained glass windows.  The owner of the scaffolding needs to use it for himself.  We are not sure of his schedule, when he will take the scaffolding or how we will work around this.  We are open to any suggestions.  Anyone got scaffolding??

-Mel Stephenson

Upper Nativity window ready to install

Pastor Charlie and Della Stephenson planning

Gail Clark and Sylvia Levy finishing project

Marcia Fitzner grinding glass

Pastor Charlie grinding glass

Jan Cool grinding glass

Mel installing 3rd window!

Stained Glass Project

The stained glass project is progressing very well with a lot of good work being accomplished.  Several new people are helping and doing very good work.  We have four windows (3 small and one large) and the trim for the last three windows installed ready for installation.  Several other large windows are in progress in all stages of completion. Some are about 40% done, while others are almost complete.  Several are just getting started, in the glass cutting and assembly stage.

Several people are working on seasonal projects to sell in order to make money for the overall project.  The hearts that were made for Valentines Day sold very well and it appears that the crosses and bunnies for Easter will also sell very well. 

We have provided Bill Simms an estimate ($10,000.00) of our products and tools for insurance coverage.  It was determined that it would be a good idea to get insurance for the glass and associated products and the tools in case of fire or some other reason for a loss.  We have a significant amount invested that would have to be replaced.

                                            -Mel Stephenson


A Sampling of the Project Pieces


Windows Ready to be installed!

Windows Ready to be installed!

In the Works!


In the Works!

Pastor Charlie working with pattern

Glass Project Status

Wow, who would have predicted 7 months ago that an initial commitment to replace our painted windows and a prayer for success would lead to such an outpouring of enthusiasm.  The shop is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays every week with 7 to 10 people working at 5 workstations.  From the start, at least 20 people have been involved in either window construction, planning, installation, building maintenance, buying equipment, making wooden trim and building worktables.  As of this week, we have 10 new  windows installed and 6 more under construction (out of 53 total).

Please remember that although we are working in donated space, the building owners are actively searching for a lessor or buyer.  Our obligations to continue to temporarily use the space are to keep the workspace clean and pay the utilities.  In addition to the utilities, our expenses mainly consist of purchasing new glass and stained glass products, firing the glass figures, and purchasing wood trim and finishing products.

To keep this project moving forward, please consider making a special donation to the window project.  Because we expect these new windows will last for the next hundred years, let’s all take part in this important page in our church’s history! 

Butch McGee

Recently Installed

Under Construction

Window Project News

The stained glass project continues to go well with many accomplishments, and it appears that each new completed window is better and more beautiful than the last.  Maybe we are just becoming more experienced.  But there is a lot of thought and prayer that goes into each window.  Some may not realize just how much thought and effort goes into each window from a) the selection of the biblical scene that is being represented, b) the selection of glass color, textures, and grain, c) cutting and fitting the glass on the pattern, and then d) the finishing, which includes soldering, puttying and polishing.  Each of these steps is important to achieving the desired end result.  We can thank Della as the primary person directing all our efforts.  I think a good example of this is the recently installed “Sprit Window”, Della’s name for the window positioned above the window with Jesus being baptized.  At the shop we give each window a name, which helps identify the window each particular piece of glass is for and which one we are working on.  It is very encouraging that we have had people like Jan Cool willing to take on a given set of windows.  Another important person is Marcia Fitzner, who has organized the glass and other supplies making it easier for all of us to get the work done.  Marcia also is eager to help on all the tasks of putting the windows together.  Therefore, when you look at a window and see a beautiful scene, just as with many things, each small or large piece of glass was selected for its attributes of color and grain which is then shaped for its part in the total scene.  When you see the window of Jesus knocking at the door, which is about half complete, see if you can pick out some of the meaning of certain aspects of the glass images within the total scene.  Marcia printed a write-up off the internet that told the story behind these aspects.

Some of the recent accomplishments include the installation of four windows, with another almost ready for installation, trim installed on two windows, two tables modified by Bill Simms to make it easier to assemble windows while standing, and several other windows in process.  I would also like to acknowledge Jordan, Butch’s granddaughter, who has redrawn the Jesus as a shepherd scene.  After this scene is finished, Della will make it into a pattern for stained glass.  In addition Gayle Clark and Butch McGee have been making small projects to sell which helps to fund the window project.

                                    -Mel Stephenson


Newly Installed Windows

More Newly Installed Windows

Stained Glass Project

The stained glass project continues to improve not only in quality, but also in the speed of getting the windows completed and installed.  This is due to the contributions of many people and the dedication of each one.  In the past I have identified the individuals that are doing the actual work on the windows and other projects.  This month I would like to recognize the people making other major contributions to the project, without whose help we would not be as far along as we are.

One of the individuals who helps a lot is Phil Levy.  He cleans the existing windows and does the necessary modifications to permit installing the new windows.  Phil also stains the trim after installation.  Bill Simms continues to be instrumental in providing worktables and project boards as well as keeping the facility operational.  Bill has also helped in the installation of all but one window.  Don Fitzner has provided help in insuring we have lights in the shop and has helped in the installation of windows.  Jon Shively has been a real workhorse as he has supplied all the trim and pine backing for the windows.  Jon has also helped in the installation of windows.  Ladd Hagmaier, Jan Cool’s husband, has also helped with the installation of most of the windows.  And, we can’t overlook Mary Alice Drolte, who takes care of the Trustee finances for the glass project.  And last, but by no means least, is the congregation.  Your moral and financial support is greatly appreciated.  I hope I have not missed anyone --I hope I have not missed anyone -- if I did, it was not intentional.                                              Mel Stephenson


Most Recent Installation

Ready to Install

Jesus Knocking at the Door

Ready to Install

Ready to Install



Stained Glass Project

July was another very productive month, even though we suspended window making activities a week for Vacation Bible School.  In addition, one of our main artists was absent for several days.  We initially estimated that it would take up to four years to complete the job; however, if we can maintain the current pace, we could be done in less than two years.  This new estimate is based on the fact that we have completed over 35% of the job in the first nine months.  This estimate may be a little optimistic since the 12 largest windows have not been started and we have only completed, installed and stained, the trim on one set of two windows.  Although completing the trim does not take a long time, compared to making a stained glass window, it does take some time.

We have shown photographs of our work to professional stained glass artists in Albuquerque and they were very impressed.  They were very nice to say that our work looked professional.  I think most people in the congregation and others are pleased with the windows installed to-date.  In fact, we have had some very complementary comments and they wonder how we accomplish the scenes.  The window depicting Jesus Knocking at the Door gets many questions on how we achieved the three dimensional appearance.  It is very interesting to hear some of the comments on how we accomplish these end results.  Of course, we just say it is God’s work, not ours. 

                                        -Mel Stephenson

Newly Installed

Ready to Install

Final Stages

Below are two more examples of the many great projects our glass artists are making to sell to help fund the church’s window project.  The horse is by Gayle Clark and the sunflower by Butch McGee.


August has been another very productive month, even though the crew has been partially absent due to vacations and other commitments.  We have one window complete and ready to install and another window nearly complete.  It appears we can complete at least two windows a month.  This will be within our estimate of finishing the job in about two years as stated last month.  It also appears that we may get the scaffolding board for the upper windows on the east side very shortly.  This will allow us to finish the trim on the upper windows. 

In addition, some of the group are still making special projects to take to the County Fair and other events.  At the Sunflower Festival in Mountainair, we made $120 on the sale of five glass pieces.  The three pieces taken to the County Fair won a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize.  This spotlights the abundant artistic talent we have in our church.  Some have already started other projects for the next seasonal events such as Halloween and the Balloon Festival.

                                                        -Mel Stephenson


Glass sale table manned by Marcia Fitzner and Gayle Clark (taking photo)…  The table was shared with Mountainair Methodist Church, where Patty Mahoney sold cookbooks to help defray the recent expense of fixing their roof.  Sale of these special project glass pieces helps to fund the overall window project.  Thanks to all who completed these projects in time for the sale.

Gayle and Sylvia Putting it all Together

Woman Touching Christ’s Robe

(very intricate pattern, mostly done)

Mel Stephenson

grinding piece

Butch Picking out Glass

Next Pattern Almost Done

A History of Stained Glass

Text Courtesy of the Art Glass Association

The origins of the first stained glass windows are lost in history. The technique probably came from jewelry making, cloisonné and mosaics. Stained glass windows as we know them, seemed to arise when substantial church building began. By the 10th century, depictions of Christ and biblical scenes were found in French and German churches and decorative designs found in England.

There is a mystery to glass: It is a form of matter with gas, liquid and solid state properties. Glass is most like a super-cooled liquid. It captures light and glows from within. It is a jewel like substance made from the most ordinary materials: sand transformed by fire. Before recorded history, man learned to make glass and color it by adding metallic salts and oxides. These minerals within the glass capture specific portions from the spectrum of white light allowing the human eye to see various colors. Gold produces stunning cranberry, cobalt makes blues; silver creates yellows and golds while copper makes greens and brick red.

Techniques of stained glass window construction were described by the monk Theophilus who wrote a how to for craftsmen about 1100 AD. It describes methods little changed over 900 years: "if you want to assemble simple windows, first mark out the dimensions of their length and breadth on a wooden board, then draw scroll work or anything else that pleases you, and select colors that are to be put in. Cut the glass and fit the pieces together with the grozing iron. Enclose them with lead cames..... and solder on both sides. Surround it with a wooden frame strengthened with nails and set it up in the place where you wish."

The Gothic age produced the great cathedrals of Europe and brought a full flowering of stained glass windows. Churches became taller and lighter, walls thinned and stained glass was used to fill the increasingly larger openings in them.  Stained glass became the sun filled world outside. Abbot Suger of the Abbey of St. Denis rebuilt his church in what is one of the first examples of the Gothic style.  He brought in craftsmen to make the glass and kept a journal of what was done.  He truly believed that the presence of beautiful objects would lift men's souls closer to God.

Window Project Continuing at Rapid Pace

September has been another productive month, even though the full crew has not worked the full month due to other commitments.  In fact, only two of us worked on the windows for most of the month.  We have installed one window and another window is ready to install.  We are currently working on three windows, the miracle window, Jesus in the temple when He was a 12 year old boy, and Jesus with the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, at the seashore.  I think we can complete and install these three windows in October.  It appears we can complete at least two windows each month.  This will be consistent with our estimate of completing the job in about two years as stated earlier.  The scaffolding boards were returned and installed in September.  This will allow us to complete the trim on the upper windows.  We are planning a concerted effort to get the trim on all the installed windows in the near future.

In addition some of the group are making special projects for the upcoming seasonal events, such as, Halloween and the Balloon Festival plus special requests.    

                                        -Mel Stephenson







Stained Glass Project

October at the glass shop has not been as productive as usual due to our crew’s other commitments.  In fact, only three of us worked on the windows for most of the month.  We hope to install two windows, the miracle window and Jesus in the temple when He was a 12 year old boy the last weekend of October.   Jesus with the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, at the sea shore should be finished in the next two weeks.  It still appears we can complete at least two windows each month.  This will be consistent with our estimate of completing the job in about two years as stated earlier.   We are still planning a concerted effort to get the trim on all the installed windows in the near future.

In addition, some of our glass workers are making special projects for the next seasonal events, such as, Halloween or special requests. 

Ready to install

Jesus in the temple

Ready to install

Miracle Window

In the works

Calling the Disciples

Stained Glass Project

November was fairly productive even though the full crew was not able to work the full month because of other commitments, and we decided not to work on windows until after the first of next year.  We installed three windows, the miracle window, Jesus in the temple when He was a 12 year old boy and Jesus with the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, at the sea shore.  It appears we can complete at least two windows each month.  This will be consistent with our estimate of completing the job in about two years as stated earlier.  In addition, trim was installed on the East windows and scaffolding removed from that area.  We plan another concerted effort to install trim on the rest of the completed windows in December.

The crew has been working on a number of small projects to sell at upcoming special events.    

                                                -Mel Stephenson

Recently Installed

Fund Raising Projects

(Remember: to see all these pictures in their original color, go to the church website listed on the front of the newsletter)

Stained Glass Project

December was an eventful month as the glass crew worked mostly on special projects and selling the items.  Including the Craft Fair at the Estancia High School and other sales.  Over $500.00 was made for the stained glass project.

The other major development was that the space we have been using for the past year was sold.  We were told on December 23 that we needed to move by January 1, 2010.  Bill Simms and others were able to obtain the use of  Shorty’s Short Stop Café on December 26.  Due to the strong response from the request made on Sunday, December 27 for boxes, paper, and help, the glass and equipment was made ready for the move on Monday, December 28.  This effort was helped by a great lunch of beans and fresh tortillas prepared by Marcia Fitzner.  When the water was turned-on Monday in the new shop, a number of leaks from frozen pipes were found in the kitchen area.  There were no problems with the gas and electricity.  On Tuesday, December 29, again due to a turnout of 15-16 people, even in the snow, all the glass and equipment was moved into the new space made available by clearing the dinning area on Monday.  This effort was helped by a great lunch prepared by Gale Clark, Donna Neish and Jan Cool.  There were so many who came to help. We can’t list them all - but you know who you are!  Even though the space is smaller than the original area, there are many positive aspects to the new area and should not hamper our task of making windows.  In addition, a plumber came on Tuesday and fixed all the leaks and started the hot water heater.  It will be great to have hot water available.  A big thanks to Ross Plumbing.

In summary, we want to say a big THANK YOU to Everyone!

                                                            -Mel Stephenson

Stained Glass Project

January has been spent getting back onto the primary job of making windows for the Church.  Ray Darnell has drawn the three windows depicting the Lord’s Supper that will go into the three large lower windows on the south side of the church.  The center window is well on the way with the three heads and their hands cut out of glass and are being painted.  The other stained glass for the window is about 25% complete.   Jan Cool is assigned the lead on these windows.  Sylvia Levy has started on another window to go above the Family Dinning window on the north side of the church.  There has been a lot of other activity in getting the new place functioning and arranged to be most efficient.  Several members of the crew are involved in making special projects.  I think most of the crew really like the new space, especially the abundant natural light from the windows on the south and west side.  It is also very nice to have hot water.

                                            -Mel Stephenson

Window pattern for the first of the Lord’s Supper series

Butch’s latest creation!

New Setup

Stained Glass Project

There has been very good progress in February in the primary job of making windows for the Church.  The three windows depicting the Lord’s Supper that will go into the three large lower windows on the South side of the Church are progressing very well.  The center window’s three heads and hands have been cut out of glass and painted.  All of the heads have been installed and the other stained glass for the window is about 75% installed.  Jan Cool is doing a good job as the lead on these windows.  Della has designed and cut the pattern for the left side window panel and the five heads and their hands have been painted and some of the other stained glass has been installed.  The right side window panel has been designed by Della and Silva and the pattern is being cut.  To be able to work on all three windows at the same time, we needed additional large project boards.  This was solved by Bill Simms modifying two of the smaller project boards into two longer project boards needed to assemble these larger windows.  These large project boards will also be used to assemble the four remaining pointed upper windows on the North and South sides of the Church.  Several members of the crew continue to make special projects. 

                                                            -Mel Stephenson

Lord’s Supper Panel

Plans for next Lord’s Supper panel

Glass Projects



Church finds miracles in stained glass

By Susan Passi-Klaus

At Estancia United Methodist Church there’s been one miracle after another.

The wonders started in 2008 when the board of trustees of the small New Mexico church made the daunting decision to replace the painted glass windows that had been at the church for 50-plus years. Sun and harsh weather had taken a toll on the windows and peeled paint frequently littered the sanctuary floor.

The day after trustees took the vote to replace the old painted windows with real stained glass, two church members with stained glass crafting experience, Della and Mel Stephenson,  stepped up to the plate and offered to supervise a church wide do-it-ourselves effort to design and construct new windows.  Miracle number one.

Then another church member called with news that a stained glass business in nearby Albuquerque was for sale. Long story short…the church was able to negotiate a miracle of a deal – just $1000 for the business (tables, tools and equipment included).  Miracle number two.

Then came an almost immediate offer of a nearby workspace to set up shop. Miracle number three.

Within a two-week window, stained glass windows were on the drawing board and under construction.

“Nobody believes everything that’s happened is ‘just a coincidence,’” said Bill Simms, chairperson of the trustees. “No way could it be. The enthusiasm was there. The commitment was there. But we had no idea how we were going to make it happen. And for everything to come together in such a short period of time really validated our decision to improve the church.”

What makes this even more of a miracle is that Estancia UMC only has 50 active members and over half of them are playing some part in getting the needed 53 windows, designed, cut, assembled and installed in the sanctuary. The task was originally supposed to take four years, but it’s moving along so quickly the windows may all be completed in just two years. They are halfway there.

“This is such a small church and you might wonder how we could take on such a huge challenge,” Simms said.  “It’s kind of like a snowball. The more people see the new windows that go up, the more they want to be part of the process.”

Throughout history religious leaders have believed that the presence of beautiful objects – like stained glass – would lift human souls closer to God. 

“This has definitely been a spiritual experience,” said Simms. “First because of the service given, then because of the fellowship found, and also because of the inspiration we get from the Bible stories that are being depicted through the stained glass.”

There are 53 windows of varying sizes – several standing 20 feet high – that need to be replaced.  The scenes are many – Jesus with the fishermen, Jesus in the garden, Jesus knocking at the door, the Nativity, and the Lord’s Supper to name a few of the congregational favorites.  The United Methodist Cross window was one of the first windows to be completed.

Word of mouth about the windows has traveled quickly throughout the community. The church, as well as the stained glass workshop, has become somewhat of a neighborhood “tourist stop” with visitors regularly poking their heads in to observe the progress of the congregational craftspeople.

“Professional glass people from Albuquerque and other places have even come to look at what we’ve done and they think it’s awesome,” said Mel Stephenson, one of the project managers, frame cutters and installers. “Time and time again we’re told that our windows look better than the ones at churches that paid big bucks for their stained glass windows.”

“This is a poor church in a poor community, but we found a way to make something beautiful happen,” Simms said. “Miracles don’t need a lot of people. You just need the faith and the will to get started.”


Stained Glass Project

This month there has been very good progress on the primary job of making windows for the Church.  Three windows depicting the Lord’s Supper will go into the three lower windows on the South side of the Church.  One is installed and the other two window panels are progressing very well.  The complexity of these windows is very noticeable compared to the other windows completed to-date.  This results in a significantly longer time to make the windows.   Jan Cool is doing a good job as the lead on these windows.  We are down to only one member of the crew making special projects, since everyone else is working on the windows.

Another interesting event that happened the last Saturday of March was that the national Methodist Church contracted with a local TV producer, Carey Moots, to video tape the stained glass operation.  This included taping the installation of the center panel of the Lord’s Supper as well as the work in the glass shop.  He also interviewed the pastor and several of the people working on the glass.  The national Church wants to air a segment on Easter Sunday, but I have no details as to time or channel. They will, however, have it on the Internet.  I think this is wonderful advertisement for our Church.

                                            -Mel Stephenson

Filming Mel Stephenson and Ladd Hagmaier Installing Window

Center Panel Installed

Mel’s Interview

Jan and Della about half done with Left Panel

Lord’s Supper


Butch and Marcia are working on Right Panel

Carey Moots, Moot’s Productions

Filming Jan Cool and Della Stephenson

Stained Glass Project

The videotaping of the stained glass project by Carey Moots discussed in last month’s newsletter was condensed down to a 1-½ minute segment narrated by Carey’s wife.  Bill Simms downloaded the segment and made a number of disks that he shared with Church members.  It is amazing how much information can be put in a short 1-½ minute segment.

Progress in April was somewhat reduced due to the difficulty in getting some specific stained glass and the 3/16-inch lead came used in the Lord’s Supper windows.  We now have plenty of the lead came but some special ordered stained glass was not as expected.  It appears that we will have to make some substitutions.  Another thing that adversely affected progress was some of our crew were unable to work due to bad weather and other commitments.   

Gayle and Marcia took some special projects to Mountainair on April 23 and 24 to sell at the Mountainair Church’s rummage sale.  Sales were not great, but they all had a good time.

                                        -Mel Stephenson

Upper south side windows under construction

Stained Glass Project

There was significant progress in May due to the whole crew being able to work and everything seemed to jel.  Some of the more significant accomplishments included:      1)Completed and installed the left window panel of the Lord’s Supper; 2)  Almost completed the right window panel of the Lord’s Supper, only puttying and installation remain; 3)  The top six small windows above the Lord’s Supper and the Crucifixion Crosses were completed and are ready to be installed; 4)  The initial design is in progress for the three window panels of the Crucifixion Crosses; 5)  The Sacraments and Foot Washing windows designs are complete and the patterns for these windows are ready to be cut out.

It is planned to complete the three Crucifixion window panels before we put up the scaffolding so we can install the nine remaining windows on the center South side at one time.  We also plan to have the window frames nearly ready to install which will result in less time the scaffolding will have to stand in the sanctuary.  This activity may have to wait until after Vacation Bible School in July.

We are planning in the near future a “window frames installation” work day for the windows already installed.

                                    -Mel Stephenson




Completed Lord’s Supper panels.

One more panel to go that should be installed before you read this.

Della puts finishing touch on right hand Lord’s Supper panel

Upper windows completed

Stained Glass Project

There was significant progress in June due to the whole crew being able to work and the experience is starting to show in both quality and time to accomplish tasks.  Some of the more significant achievements included:  1) Completing and installing the right window panel of the Lord’s Supper; 2) The assembly process is in progress for the three window panels of the Crucifixion with completion varying from about 25% to 50%; and 3) The Foot Washing window is in the assembly process and is about 30% complete.  

We are still planning to complete the three Crucifixion panels before we put up the scaffolding so that we can install the nine remaining windows on the center south side at one time.  We also plan to have the window frames ready to install, which will result in less time for the scaffolding to be up in church.  All the installation will be scheduled after Vacation Bible School in July.

We are also still planning in the near future a “window frames installation” work day for the windows already installed.

                                        -Mel Stephenson

Crucifixion Windows Under Construction

Foot Washing Window

Stained Glass Project

In July there was significant progress on the stained glass window construction.  Most of our crew were able to work and experience is starting to show in both quality and time to accomplish tasks.  Some of the more significant accomplishments included:  1) Completing the center window panel of the Crucifixion Cross, which is ready to be installed; 2) Assembly process of the left Crucifixion Crosses window panel was completed and is ready to solder; 3) The assembly process of the right window panel of the Crucifixion Crosses is about 90% complete; and 4) The Foot Washing window assembly process was completed and soldered.   

With the three Crucifixion window panels nearly complete, we will be putting up the scaffolding in mid- August so we can install the nine remaining windows on the center south side at one time.  We also plan to have the window frames ready to install, which will result in less time the scaffolding will have to be up in the church.

We are still planning a “window-trim installation” work day for the windows already installed in the near future.

We had a little setback when our newest grinder required some repairs.  Bill Simms was able to get the grinder repaired at the factory under warranty.  To help alleviate this potential problem in the future, a new grinder was purchased for a back up.  Since several of the crew wanted a personal grinder, we got the one for the shop at a group discount from Glass Crafters at a great savings.

                                -Mel Stephenson

Cross Windows Under Construction

Stained Glass Project

There was significant window progress in August.  Some of the accomplishments included:  1) Completing the two remaining Crucifixion Crosses and the Foot Washing windows; 2) Erecting the scaffolding in the church and installing four windows, the three Crucifixion Crosses and the Foot Washing windows; 3) Preparing the 1/2” X3/4” and 1/2”X1/2” back supports for the four windows installed and the remaining seven windows ready for installation and some for future windows; 4) Starting the assembly process on two other windows; 5) Marcia and Gayle took some small craft items to the Sunflower Festival in Mountainair to sell, where they received orders for two additional projects; 6) The available trim for the previously installed windows were stained by Phil Levy, which will save time after the trim is installed.

We are still planning a “window-trim installation” workday for the previously installed windows in the near future.  We may be able to include this task at the same time as the installation of the seven windows that are now ready.

                                    -Mel Stephenson

Installed Cross Windows

Marcia and Gayle at Sunflower Days booth

Foot Washing Window

Stained Glass Project

There was significant progress in September and some of the more significant accomplishments included:  1) Installed the remaining nine windows in the south center section of the church; 2) Installed the Foot Washing window; 3) Completed the assembly of the “Donkey” window that will be installed above the “Jesus in the Temple” window; 4) Started the design of two windows for the north side of the church; 5) Started the assembly process on two windows for the north side of the church.

We are still planning a “window-trim installation” workday for the previously installed windows in the near future

                                        -Mel Stephenson

Della and Jan Completing Touchup on Hosanna Window

Final Inspection


Stained Glass Project

There was significant progress in October and some of the more significant accomplishments include:  1) Installed the “Donkey” window; 2) Completed the design of the two windows for the north-west window; 3) Continued the assembly process of the north-east window; 4) Completed the trim for the installed windows on the South side of the church; 5) Gayle, Marcia, and Butch completed a number of ornaments for the church Christmas tree.  Della devised a money making plan, for the stained glass project and also to help decorate the Christmas tree, by allowing the congregation or others to give a donation for a specific type of ornament and their name would be placed on the ornament and hung on the tree.  If the ones giving the donation would like their own ornament they may commission one of the above people to make an ornament for them.

The window-trim installation workday is anticipated for early November.

                                                                                                                                                -Mel Stephenson

Marcia and Della working on projects and future windows



The window project is currently about three fourths completed and the Trustees are starting to think about a grand celebration.  We would welcome any input you may have.  Our window project has been documented from the very first day on our our church’s website.  Please go to to read about the project and see pictures from the beginning.  Hope you noticed Thursday’s Telegraph article about the glass shop!

Volunteers who attend the United MethodIst Church In
Estancia have been workIng for two years on replacIng the
church’s stained-glass wIndows.

New Church Panes

Mountain View Telegraph            Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mel Stephenson shows some of the work volunteers have done to replace stained glass at the United Methodist Church In Estancia.


Mountain View Telegraph

United Methodist Church parishioners are leaving their mark on Estancia history. Mel and Della Stephenson oversee a group of volunteers who have been laboring for over two years to replace the painted glass windows in the church with hand-crafted, stained-glass panes. And Mel is optimistic about the group's ability to get the project done ahead of schedule.

    "Originally, we estimated that we'd be able to get the job done in four years," Mel said. "It's been two years now, and we've got about three-fourths of it done."

    The lengthy project is also a necessary one. Heating the 105-year-old church is no easy feat, especially in the cold of winter. Mel said new windows could reduce the church's energy bill.

    They will also improve the building on an aesthetic level. Paint is peeling on the original panes.

    The majority of the work is completed at the group's studio in the renovated Short Stop Cafe.

    A group of seven volunteers meet there three days a week. Officially, they are scheduled to work from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the volunteers frequently log longer hours.

    "Sometimes, we stay until four or five," said Della. She has been working with stained glass for 35 years and is in charge of the project. Della selects the images and oversees the creation of the windows.

    "The process can take up to two months, from idea to completion," she said.

    If begins with selecting an image to work with. A design is then created, based off that image. The design is a map of the finished product, where volunteers mark out and measure the location of each piece of glass. After that, it's just a matter of cutting and soldering.

    "It's like building your own jigsaw puzzle," explained volunteer Sylvia Levy.

    The volunteers are obviously passionate about what they do.

    "I like working with glass," said Gail Clark, who dabbled in other crafts, such as leatherwork, before discovering glass. Sales of her glass art have helped keep the project alive. United Methodist's new windows are funded primarily by donations and proceeds made at crafts fairs and other venues.

    Della added that some of the volunteers are planning to continue their work after the project is completed. But that's not for her. Once the windows are finished, "I plan to go home and rest," she said.


Stained Glass Project

There was progress in November, even with a reduced crew, and some of the more significant accomplishments included:  1) Della and Jan Cool attended a Fusing Class in Albuquerque and plan to incorporate some fusing in future stained glass windows; 2) We installed and finished the trim on 16 of the previously installed 25 windows.  The remaining nine will be done in the near future.  A big thanks to Bill, Mel, Don, Jon, and Phil for a job well done; 3) Finished fabrication and installed the north-east window in the sanctuary; 4) Gayle, Marcia, and Butch completed more ornaments for the Christmas Tree in our sanctuary; 5) Jan Cool and Mel started the assembly process on the “Jesus and Children” window for the lower north-west window. 

Della’s money making plan described in last month’s newsletter has been successful.  The plan allows the congregation and others to give a specific type of ornament with their name on it to hang on the sanctuary tree.  If someone giving a donation wants their own personal ornament, they may commission one of the glass crafters to make an ornament for them.  For instance, Gayle Clark has been commissioned to make seven “Donkeys” and a “Draft Horse”.

Della and the crew have decided to curtail activities for the remainder of the year and give the Glass Shop a thorough cleaning.  A few of the crafters are choosing to work on special projects over this period.

                                        -Mel Stephenson

Clean-up Day at the Glass Shop - 9:AM Thursday, Dec. 9

Those of us who are not talented glass cutters, but still feel a need to

contribute to the window project can meet at the glass shop at 9:00 am to

help in the cleaning process.

Framing, Staining and Varnishing Completed

Sacraments Window Completed and Installed

Christmas Tree decorated with Glass Shop Ornaments

Stained Glass Project

There was little window progress in December.  The only glass activities were a good cleaning of the shop, some slight modifications to make work more efficient and taking some items to sell at the Craft Fair at the Estancia High School on December 11, 2010..

                                                                                                                                                                        -Mel Stephenson

Della and Mel

Craft Fair

Stained Glass Project

It appears everyone had a good rest from the glass shop, and got back into the routine in January. Good progress was made in the assembly process of two large windows and one small window. Della finished the rough design of the three “Tomb” windows and is well on the way to making the patterns for the windows. Jon Shively is making a new trim piece to replace one that warped on one of the Naivety windows.

We had one little mishap when one of our glass grinders had an electrical short in the switch and it “bit” several people. We immediately took the grinder out of service and replaced it the next day with another one that Mel and Della brought from home. Thanks to Bill Simms, who took the faulty grinder home and fixed it. It is now back in service. With a little rearranging, we now have four glass grinders in operation and at times they are all in use.


The Glass Shop is planning to sponsor and prepare a St. Patrick’s Day dinner on Thursday, March 17 at 6:00 PM in the Education Building. The main dish will be an old fashioned Corned Beef and Cabbage with all the fixin’s. Both hot and cold drinks (green of course) will be provided along with desert. Donations to the Glass Shop will be appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                        -Mel Stephenson


MARCH 2011

Stained Glass Project

February was a very productive month and some of the major accomplishments were:  1) Completed the assembly process of the “Jesus and the Children” window and it will be installed in early March; 2) Nearly completed the assembly process of the “World” window and it will also be installed in early March; 3) Sylvia completed the small “Flame” window and it will be installed after the “Accession” windows are finished and installed while the scaffolding is up; 4) Della and Jan, with the help of Alma, completed our first fused glass project, a small bird, that will be part of the “Jesus and the Children” window; and 5) Della finished the pattern making process of the three “Tomb” windows and the assembly process has started on the right panel.

Jesus and the Children

World Window

Remember St. Patrick’s Day Dinner!!!

The Glass Shop is planning to sponsor and prepare a St. Patrick’s Day dinner on Thursday, March 17 at 6:00 PM in the Education Building.  The main dish will be old fashion corned beef and cabbage with all the fix-ins.  Both hot and cold (green, of course) drinks will be provided along with desert.  Donations for the Glass Shop will be appreciated.  Please RSVP your intention to attend by, or before, March 13, as this will help us determine the amount of food to prepare (some extra will be made).  You may call either Della at 384-4223 or Gayle at 384-1000.  Please leave a message if no one answers.

APRIL 2011

Stained Glass Project

March was a good productive month even though we did not work the normal schedule due a malfunctioning furnace.  Bill Simms and Jon Shively, with the help of Shorty the building owner, fixed the furnace problem temporarily.  The furnace still needs a small blower.  Some of our major accomplishments were:  1) Finished and installed the “Jesus and the Children” and the “World” windows; 2) Started the assembly process of all three “Tomb” windows.  The right window is about 45% complete, the left window about 40% complete and the center window about 25% complete. 

The St. Patrick’s Day dinner was a huge success.  Sixty-three people were served and the donations amounted to $632.00.  Many folks stated that the dinner was very good. Some of the attendees went over to the church to see our window progress and several non-members stated they were very impressed with the windows.

                                            -Mel Stephenson

MAY 2011

Stained Glass Project

April was a good productive month even though we were unable to keep our normal schedule.  Bill Simms and Ladd Hagmaier fixed the furnace problem with the installation of a new motor for the small blower.  Some of the major accomplishments were:  1) Continued the assembly process of the three “Tomb” windows.  The right window is complete and the left and center windows are about 75% complete. We will need some more glass to finish these windows which will have to be ordered.

A work-day for the installation of window trim will be scheduled in the near future.  It is planned to remove the two “Rose” windows in the bell tower on the trim installation work-day.  The two “Rose” windows will be a large effort and will take several months to complete.

                                                       -Mel Stephenson

Ascension Windows





Stained Glass Project

We had a good productive month in May.  Some of the major accomplishments were:  1) Completed the assembly process and installed the three “Tomb” windows; 2) Designed the “Ascension” window and started the design of the two adjacent windows.  In order to install these windows and the upper six windows a scaffold must be erected.

A trim installation work-day will be scheduled in the near future.  The plan to remove the two “Rose” windows in the bell tower has been changed to repairing the windows in place.  The needed repair including replacing the broken panes and installing stained glass will be a major job.

-                                                Mel Stephenson

JUNE 2011

Tomb Windows








In April of 2010 Methodist Church Communications sent out a news team to create an in depth video of the EUMC stained glass project.  They commissioned Carey Moots, local TV producer to film and interview our glass group.  The video, to the right, is the result of their efforts.

This is the video they produced.

On Sunday, February 26, The Albuquerque Journal ran a front page article on our window project.  Following is a link to the video they produced as well as the article written by journalist Leslie Linthicum.

MARCH, 2012

APRIL, 2012

MAY, 2012

JUNE, 2012

JULY, 2012

AUGUST, 2012