St. John’s Episcopal Church offers tours during arts event
By LINDA M. LINONIS
Visitors tour- ing St. John’s Episcopal Church this weekend will walk away with tidbits on architecture, the Mahoning Valley’s steel industry, stained-glass windows and religion.
It’s all free with the tour planned from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the church, which is participating in the Summer Festival of the Arts at Youngstown State University.
Liz Wrona, a 30-year church member, coordinates the tours, which have taken place the past 15 years or so.
On the tour, Wrona said visitors will learn the church architecture “is a blend of Norman Gothic and English styles.” This “arts-and-crafts style,” she said, features rough stonework, thick pillars and high pointed arches.
The St. John’s on Wick Avenue is the congregation’s second church. The first church building was
built and dedicated in 1862 and destroyed by fire 32 years later. The church was built at its current site in 1898; it seats about 500. The church building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
Highlights of the sanctuary are two Tiffany windows. “Te Deum” (To God) relates to a hymn with those opening words. The large stained-glass window above the church’s front door depicts “Christ in glory,” Wrona said. The window also is detailed with angels, archangels and prophets. It was a gift to the church in memory of the late Mrs. David Tod, who died in 1901.
“It’s an art-nouveau style and was made in New York then installed in the church,” Wrona said.
Another Tiffany window, the Resurrection Angel, was added to the church in memory of deceased parishioners. There’s some color in the window — blue, red and gold — but the overall effect is subdued.
Next to this window is a modern stained-glass window designed by Susan Russo, a YSU professor. Called the “Creation” window, it was donated by Dr. and Mrs. Albert Cinelli, church members, in honor of their children. The window, made by Franklin Art Glass Studio of Columbus, features a stag, dog, cat, rabbit and children.
There are 10 clerestory windows that highlight the sanctuary. A brochure from the dedication service on May 1, 1955, said the windows “are fashioned in the great medieval tradition of stained-glass, which frequently depicted in religious dimension the daily task of tradesmen and the artisan.” The windows highlight various aspects of steel making.
“When steel was booming here in the 1950s, many church members were active in the industry,” Wrona said. “This ties work with faith life.”
The round windows, which are positioned above eye level and filter natural light into the church, were crafted by the Charles J. Connick Associates firm of Boston.
Wrona explained that verses from the Psalms are associated with each window. For example, the window depicting a riverboat bringing coal is associated with Psalm 46:4, “There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.”
“These windows bring everyday life into the church,” Wrona said.
There’s also a stained-glass window highlighting St. John, the patron of the church. “In the beginning was the Word,” the beginning of the Gospel of St. John, is written in Latin on the window. Symbols include a book and feather, signifying a Gospel writer.
Wrona said the book “How to Read a Church” has offered some insight into pertinent tour information. She said tour participants often ask religious-related questions.
“The Tiffany windows make an impression,” she said.
The aumbry, where consecrated communion wafers are stored, also attracts interest. It came from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which closed. There also are two statues — St. Rocco and Virgin with child — that came from St. Rocco’s Episcopal Church, which also closed.
Overall, there are 36 stained-glass windows in the sanctuary and three in the chapel.