The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

March 21, 2013

Stained glass windows installed at Tennessee Colony church

TENNESSEE COLONY — Prayers have been answered for a Tennessee Colony congregation that has dreamed for years of having new stained glass windows installed in their sanctuary.

“Through prayers being answered, some faithful research and a family connection, Tennessee Colony Church now has 10 stained glass windows that adorn our sanctuary,” said the Rev. John Wisener, church pastor. “The windows tell the story of creation, the flood, birth of Jesus, His baptism, garden prayer, crucifixion, empty tomb, ascension and symbols of the Christian faith.”

Families gave funds toward the purchase of the windows in memory of loved ones who have passed away. Fundraisers were held and offerings were received.

When searching for a stained glass windows manufacturer, Wisener found Gene Smeltzer of Longview. After a consultation and a review of his work, it was discovered that there was a family connection.

Smeltzer’s wife is the sister to a wife of the pastor’s first cousin. Over the last two years Smeltzer has made several trips to Tennessee Colony to install the windows as he built them in his home workshop. His work can be found in several churches throughout East Texas.  

Church members Jay and Gaye Karriker were asked to be the color coordinators and to assist in the design of the windows. Much work has gone into the project, beginning with the removal of the old windows in the sanctuary.

Removing the windows, which were installed in 1928 at the time the church was built, was no easy task. That required the experience of Drewy Harper, a church member and deacon with years of carpentry experience.  

“Drewy handled every window, every rebuilt frame and piece of trim during the removal of the old windows and the installation of the new,” Wisener said.

Now the church is working on construction of its new fellowship hall.

The outside structure has been completed, but the electricity, plumbing and carpentry work has yet to start.

Funds to complete the project are being raised through the creation of an heirloom quality cookbook. The community is asked to submit recipes to Wisener via email to 

“The cookbook will be desired by many because of the quality of recipes, the history of the church and the love of God which will go into this book,” Wisener said.

Tennessee Colony Church is located at the five-way intersection of FM 645, FM 321 and Spur 324. Sunday services are held at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. A mid-week meal is served on Wednesday nights and Bible study follows.

“The windows are gorgeous and they really transform the inside of the sanctuary,” Wisener said. “God is blessing the work here in this community through the installation of the windows and the building of our new fellowship hall.”

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