Date:June 09, 2013

Presbyterian & Reformed Window

PresbyterianThe Presbyterian & Reformed Window

The last window has at its top the symbol for the Presbyterian Church (USA), adopted after the historic 1983 reunion of the two largest Presbyterian bodies in America. Our own congregation at Westminster played a leading role in supporting this reunion, and the seal characterizes our rich heritage. The dove descends at the top of the cross, while the cross bar is formed in the shape of an open Bible. The center of the cross forms at once a communion cup, a baptismal font, and a pulpit to hold the Bible. At the base are two flames, one for the Old Testament and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-12), the other representing the New Testament and Pentecost (Acts 2). The figure in the center with the eye glasses is Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), twenty-eighth President of the United States. Born in Staunton, Virginia, Wilson was raised as a boy in Columbia, where his father served as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church and a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary. A graduate of Davidson College, Wilson was a teacher and educator before entering politics. As a Presbyterian Elder, he was a man whose Christian principles influenced his thinking throughout his life. Wilson’s private devotion to Christ translated itself into a life of public service, including the presidency of Princeton University, the governorship of New Jersey and eight years as President of the United States.
The man on the right is James Henley Thornwell (1812-1862), in many ways the greatest Presbyterian in South Carolina history. Thornwell served as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia and as Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary. Eventually he became the President of South Carolina College (now known as the University of South Carolina). Today in Clinton, South Carolina, the Thornwell Home for Children, an institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), is a living witness to this man’s life and work. Thornwell sought to apply Biblical principles always to the ordering of the ministry and mission of the Presbyterian Church.

The figure to the left of the window is Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). The son of a Berlin psychiatrist, Bonhoeffer was appointed Head of the Finkenwald Confessing Church Seminary in 1935, a church body that resisted Nazi control of the Church in Germany and proclaimed the Lordship of Christ over all of life. Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943 for his involvement in smuggling fourteen Jews into Switzerland, and was in 1945 martyred by the Nazis in Flossenburg. He is remembered not only for his courageous witness to Christ, but also for his writings. Among the books he left us are The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together and Letters and Papers from Prison. Bonhoeffer’s witness includes these words, ‘Christ suffered as a free man alone, in body and in spirit, and since that day many Christians have suffered with him.”