Small church congregation struggling to complete big window restoration project

CENTER POINT, Texas – Members of a small Hill Country church are struggling to complete a big project. One that involves restoring all the stained glass windows on the more than century-old building.

The congregation of Center Point United Methodist Church first began the undertaking in 2013.

This is the third building to occupy this space on Church Street and house the congregation. Still, it is more than 100 years old. (KSAT 12 News)

Since then, through fundraisers and other donations, they have managed to pay for the refurbishment of only some of the windows.

“It takes a lot of money to refurbish stained glass. Each of the big windows was about $50,000,” said Marsha Burney, the church’s historian and a long-time member.

The church and its windows mean a lot to Burney as well as the entire congregation.

Burney married into the family that founded the church in the mid-1800s.

The current building is the third to house the congregation. Still, it and its colorful windows are more than 100 years old.

“You can’t sit here in the sanctuary and look at the windows and not be moved,” Burney said. “It’s the light of God that comes through.”

Helen Ferne Goolsby was about 19-years-old at the time when she designed the windows. (KSAT 12 News)

The windows, she said, were handcrafted by a young San Antonio woman, Helen Ferne Goolsby, in the early 1900s.

“The people of the church at that time wanted stained glass windows and they contacted the San Antonio Glass Company in San Antonio,” she said. “(Goolsby) was 19 and she designed these. They were brought up to Center Point, probably on a wagon.”

Although the railroad was up and running in Center Point at the time, Burney says the train would have been too rough of a ride for the delicate artwork.

Refurbishing the windows also has to be done carefully, she said.

Each one is taken out, piece by piece, then cleaned, repaired and replaced.

Burney said a company in New Braunfels, Whitworth Stained Glass, has been handling the project and working patiently with the church.

The congregation consists of about 40 or so members who are trying to raise thousands of dollars for the restoration project. (KSAT 12 News)

While it includes a hefty price tag for the congregation, which includes about 40 people, Burney said they have faith they will find a way to complete the work.

“God just works for us,” she said. “We just keep praying and hoping and planning.”

For more on Center Point United Methodist Church and its window restoration project, click here.

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