I don’t recall where or when I acquired the information that I have shared with visitors to our Sanctuary about the lovely Rose Window in our Chancel. Many times, I have relayed to these visitors that the Rose Window was given to the church by W. P. Adams, who was a member.
For years, the exact details of Mr. Adams’ generosity were unknown. We knew that the Rose Window had to have been given to the church after 1920, when a devastating fire destroyed the second church building.
It was widely known that Mr. and Mrs. Adams vacationed in Florida during the winter and that Mr. Adams had also donated a window to the church they attended there, with the exact same scene of Jesus giving a blessing.
A connection in Florida
In 2021, we received a message through our church website from Wayne Boucher asking about the history of our Rose Window. He had been contacted by the Miami Beach, Florida Community Church. Church leaders there wondered if Mr. Boucher could verify if their window (which is a duplicate of ours) had been made by Tiffany Studios.
Mr. Boucher shared the following from the historical archives at Miami Beach Community Church:
THE STAINED GLASS WINDOW: This stained glass window came to the church in a very interesting way. One Sunday morning during the “season” Howard Heinz was in the congregation and at the close of the service, he hurried to the pulpit and spoke to the Minister:
“I have enjoyed being here this morning very much. I was surprised to see the Church crowded and I like the music and the sermon, but I think that window in the chancel is a hideous thing! There should be a stained glass window there. I’ll see to that.”
With this, he turned and left the auditorium. No one knew who he was.
Two months later, the man wrote a letter to the Minister saying that he would return to the Church on the following Sunday and would like to meet with the Minister, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and a contractor after Church service. His signature was such that it gave no evidence of his identity!
However, the man came as arranged on March 15, 1925, and in the interview, he began to talk about his father’s interest in Sunday School work, and said that he had a habit of leaving stained glass windows in churches and chapels about the country wherever he thought they would be appreciated and also useful.
The man said that since his father’s death he had been following his father’s example. His identity was thus discovered and his name, Howard Heinz, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was known. His idea was that as the Sunday School met in the auditorium every Sunday morning a window representing Christ as “Good Shepherd” or something like it would be an inspiration. “If you will accept the gift, I will be happy to send it to you.” Those were thrilling words and the proposed gift was accepted.
The window came and was dedicated July 31, 1927. It has been a blessing to the church in hundreds of ways. It has given to the auditorium a religious atmosphere day and night. The figure of Christ blessing the congregation is most impressive. It has been an aid to worship in the opening of the religious programs of the Sunday School.
It has been a quieting influence upon hundreds of people who have entered the Church during the day to rest and pray. Especially has it been comforting to those gathered in the Church for funerals, and it has given its blessing to many young people who have been married in the
Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Adams of Odebolt, Iowa worshiped with this Church, winters, for many years. They both were very fond of the window, and later Mr. Adams had an exact copy of it placed in the Odebolt Church for Mrs. Adams.
Mrs. Adams writes, Oct. 10, 1941, that people seem to have a never-ending joy sitting under it and watching it. The window has a way of changing shades all during the day as the sun approaches and departs from it. (History Archival book of the Miami Beach Community Church)
Details in our Historical Archives
When the message from Mr. Boucher came in, I dug into our History Book that is housed in the Sanctuary Hall. According to those records, Mrs. Adams gave the western spotlight to highlight the window in the evenings. Our window was given to the church in 1929 by Mr. Adams, in appreciation and thanks that he had survived the sinking of the ocean liner “The Vestris” in 1928. More than 100 people perished in that tragedy.
More details indicate that our Rose Window is a duplicate of the Miami Beach Community Church’s window, and that the likely creator and maker of the window is a glass company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, famous at the time, called Rudy Brothers and preferred by Heinz.
The two Rose Windows in Odebolt, Iowa and Miami Beach, Fla. are the only two in the United States. And it all started with Mr. Heinz (of the Heinz 57 Company) visiting a church service with which he was impressed and moved.
Don’t underestimate the effects we as a congregation may have on someone new to our Sanctuary, nor the importance of our being here as an extension of Christ’s blessings.