Into the light of love | News | The Press and Standard

by | December 24, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: December 24, 2016 at 9:02 pm


PEACE. Lewis Brown tells the story of the special stained glass windows of Mt. Olive Baptist Church. Photo by Cindy Crosby

As 68-year-old Lewis Brown sits on a pew inside of Mt. Olive Baptist Church, contemplating the approach of Christmas, the light peeks through the stained-glass window and plays across his face in changing patterns. As typical with stained glass church windows, when sunlight hits them, rays of multicolored light burst across the sanctuary, touching those worshipping inside. This day is no different.

Brown begins to tell the story of how the special stained glass windows of Mt. Olive Church came to realization, and as he does, the light seems to wander along back of the pew, like the fabric of his words — bringing peace, harmony and love.

A 1966 graduate of Colleton High School, Brown played football for the Wolverines. He graduated from Voorhees College in 1970 and moved to New York, where he had a successful career and eventually retired from the New York State Department of Labor.

“In 1993, Betty Tracy made an enthusiastic phone call to St. Albans, N.Y., where I was then living,” said Brown. “She explained Mt. Olive was looking to replace their windows and she was calling to see if I would like to sponsor one in memory of my mother. Listening carefully, I then made a request that the window, funded by my brother Daniel and myself, have African American features.”

CHRISTMAS STORY. Here, a window in Mt. Olive Church, depicts the Christmas Story with African American features. Photo by Cindy Crosby

Brown’s request was not only met with approval by the church committee, but he was notified based on his idea, all the stained-glass windows would have African American features. “A year later, I received a letter from Betty stating I had gotten my wish and letting me know the African American features in the windows were beautiful,’” said Brown.

Now, 22 years later, Brown has returned home to Colleton County — which allows him to enjoy the ever-changing light from the windows each time he worships at Mt. Olive Church. “The windows are sacred and historic,” he said. “It is art and yes, it can motivate and inspire everyone for the better good. Remember to keep at least one of the windows in your mind during daily activities. The 22 windows have been at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, by divine order, for 22 years. We invite visitors to come find peace and tranquility.”

STAINED-GLASS. Although the history of stained-glass windows remains debatable, they are mostly associated with churches and cathedrals and tend to honor Biblical passages. Often called “the poor man’s Bible,” stained-glass windows were used to understand the events and lessons in the Bible for those who couldn’t afford one. Here, Lewis Brown gazes at the window which was given in memorial of his mother. Photo by Cindy Crosby

Brown’s thought, so many years ago, led to a rich display of heritage and light on display at Mt. Olive. But his message also serves to remind that the spirit of Christmas is found in the light of God.

Mt. Olive Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Wayne Carter, is located at 329 Savage Street in Walterboro. Sunday School begins at 9:30 a.m. and Sunday morning worship begins at 11 a.m. and services are open to the public.

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