St. Peter Lutheran Church at Walburg, Texas 2017 - All Rights Reserved
Stained Glass Windows at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Walburg, Texas
St. Peter Lutheran Church has been an institution within Walburg, Texas for 125 years and is well known throughout the area. St. Peter Lutheran Church is known as the traditional little “church with the beautiful windows”. The windows represent different times and generations in our congregation’s development.
They were designed to thoughtfully and quietly narrate the life of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The north side (from the rear) shows (1) the Angels & Shepherds, (2) Jesus’ circumcision, (3) fleeing to Egypt, (4) Jesus’ baptism, (5) Jesus with the children, and (6) Jesus teaching. The south side (from the front) shows (7) the Good Shepherd, (8) Jesus walking on water with Peter, (9) Mary at the Cross, (10) Jesus at the Tomb, (11) Jesus with the disciples, and (12) Jesus’ ascension. Each window has another message (or symbol) at the top. For instance, above the angels in the rear is a picture of a cross and crown, indicating that this child from lowly birth would be a suffering servant & king to his people – Israel. And the 10 Commandments appear above Jesus’ ascension, indicating that he is the fulfillment of the law. Surrounded by the beautiful story-panes on a bright Sunday morning, the windows can inspire awe and reverence to first time visitors and to long time members alike.
The oldest windows were installed and dedicated in 1905. The most prominent is the round window installed above the altar, in memory of Carl Miller, 1845-1895. It depicts “Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane”. This window was donated by Carl Miller’s widow, Carolina and his sons, Adolph & Otto. The other two windows on either side of the altar were donated by C.G. Jungmichael and Ernest Bielss. The window to the left shows the “Bible” and was given in memory of Carl Gottfried Jungmichael, 1828-1901. The window to the right shows the “Communion Cup” and was donated in memory of Ernest Bielss, 1849-1893. These three windows were dedicated on the fourth Sunday of advent in 1905 and were transferred to the present day church building which was dedicated on September 8, 1930.
On the same day, the 2 large windows to the left (and above the piano) were dedicated to the memory of the founders of the Lutheran church. They depict reformation leaders Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Marburger donated the “Luther” window. Brothers Adolph, John & Emil Haas donated both the “Melanchthon” window and the small diamond shaped window showing “Wartburg Castle”, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament from Latin into German.
Twelve more windows were installed in the new church in the 1930’s. With six on each side of the sanctuary, these windows ranged in cost from $75.00 to $100.00 each. This was during the difficult depression years. Such donations required lots of work, saving, and determination to purchase. Not only are they beautiful, but they reflect the financial strength and determination of our forefathers.
On the north side of the sanctuary, starting from the shepherd’s window in the back and moving towards the front, the windows were donated by (1) Emily Schneider and children in memory of Herman Schneider, (2) John Schneider, (3) Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Tonn, (4) Mr. And Mrs. Max Bielss, (5) Mr. and Mrs. Paul Knauth, and (6) Rev. J.M. Bergner & family. On the south side, beginning with the ascension window in the rear and moving forward, the windows were donated by (7) Mr. and Mrs. Otto Wolbrueck, (8) in memory of A.A. Braune by Augusta Braune, (9) in memory of Adolph C. Braun by Anna Braun who was one of the first members, (10) in memory of Pastor Joh. Doerfler by Mrs. Salome Doerfler, (11) in memory of W.H. Homeyer by Mrs. Sophie Homeyer, and (12) Mr. and Mrs. Willie Wolbrueck.
In order to protect the stained glass windows a Lexan covering was installed in 1974. Then in 1993, repairs were completed to the lead between the glass in the windows and new Lexan plastic encased the entire outside window frames to protect them future damage. While necessary, this unfortunately prevents the windows from opening during pleasant weather on Sunday mornings.
In 1994 a new window was given by the children of the Liese family. This beautiful and colorful window was installed upstairs, behind the organ and was donated in memory of Otto and Alma Liese. In keeping with all the other triangle windows the children chose the theme of the Gospel; the window depicts the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
In 1996, Howard Bielss donated the small triangular window that is above the door behind the pulpit and looking into the sacristy. It was dedicated in honor of Howard’s mother and father, Erich and Donie Bielss. Howard confided that he gratefully received much advice in the window selection from another member, Norma Andres. Similar to earlier windows, this one was designed in the tri-window style to represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
There are two additional floral widows on the west side (one in the stairway and the other only partially visible from within the restroom). We lack official records about who presented them or when. Please contact me or the church office if you have information about these windows.
One more window is difficult to see. It is located in the bell tower and appears to have been part of the original windows during construction of this sanctuary.
The final stained glass windows in the sanctuary were installed shortly before Easter in 1998. They are in the front entry doors to the church building.
Many things have been written about these beautiful windows at St. Peter Lutheran Church, and countless pictures have been taken. They are even on the internet. On December 15, 2009, Carol and Mike McCoy invited the Sun City stained glass club to view the beautiful windows. They filmed a video of the St. Peter windows which can still be seen on YouTube.
Some windows are over 100 years old and are generations removed from current membership at St. Peter. Personal history is often not available about those giving and caring individuals who donated the windows or for whom they were dedicated. Many individuals connected with the windows departed to their heavenly home long ago, yet St. Peter is still blessed by these families.
St. Peter Lutheran Church’s founding fathers and their descendents continue to strengthen our congregational family, even though the names may be spelled a bit differently today. For example, the Mueller, Miiler and Miller descendants are still connected to this congregation.
One of our older members laughingly stated that we are all entwined. Our congregation and community are blessed with descendants from the Brune, Braun, Bielss, Homeyer, Liese, Miller, Schneider and Wolf families, just to name a few. Add those who are related through marriage, and it becomes difficult (if not impossible) to list all the descendants of the early founders.
While we value the family heritage, these windows serve as a constant reminder that we are all related to each other as Christian brothers and sisters, children of one Heavenly Father and baptized into the church as children of God. They show us the passion of Christ and remind us of the love of Jesus Christ for us, sinners as we are.
For that reason we celebrate those who have gone before us and left us with these beautiful and inspiring windows.
God willing, this congregation can look forward to another 125 years of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only through the study and preaching of God’s Word, through cheerful actions toward our neighbors, or through joyful voices – but also through our beautiful windows!
The founders live on through the works of future generations, guided by the Spirit as we hear through the Gospel.
Matthew 25:35-36 (ASV) 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
John 14:6 (ASV) 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Ephesians 2:4-9 (ASV) 4 but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: 8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory.
Matthew 28:19-20 (ASV) 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.