Brooklyn church fundraises for ‘window’ of opportunity

Courtenay Brown | 8/8/2013, 9:46 a.m. | Updated on 8/8/2013, 9:46 a.m.

 The buckling glass and protruding frames of the 40-foot tall Tiffany stained-glass window at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church (BMBC) may go unnoticed by the average person walking the streets of Fort Green, Brooklyn. Members of the church, however, believe that the window, which has been damaged by extreme weather conditions begs restoration.

BMBC hosted a kick-off event on July 25 to raise awareness about the Pilgrims Restoration Project, where the church’s members seek to raise $150,000 toward replacing the window. The church also offered tours and explained the historical value of the window to members of the community who attended the fundraiser.

The church has already received a $200,000 grant from the American Express, which has partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create the American Express Partners in Preservation program. According to Yolanda Bobb, a member of the Pilgrims Fundraising Committee at BMBC, restoring the window will bring a “sense of purpose and completion” to the church.

“Right now, the love in us that Christ has is not being shown on the outside,” Bobb said. “We love this church, and we take pride in every bit of it. It’s like your home. If you have a broken window, there’s something missing.”

The original Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass window, which is 40-feet tall and 15-feet wide, has not been replaced since its installation in 1891. It portrays the scene of two pilgrims, who sought freedom in every country, approaching an angel in the center pane,l and the two panels on each side features scripture from the Book of Exodus.

Some of the church members, like Beverly Jacobs, assert that the window’s message is still relevant now, especially in light of George Zimmerman’s acquittal.

“At a time we were just looking for basic liberties and freedoms,” Jacobs said. “Today when we have cases of Trayvon Martin, we take those freedoms for granted. We are still looking to have racial equality and justice. We are still struggling to get those basic freedoms.”

Jacobs was one of several who pledged to donate money to the church. Chairlady of the Deaconess board, Ida Meyer, who said the restoration of the window was vital for incoming youth to understand the history of the church, also pledged to donate $1,000. By the end of the night, the church had raised $8,800.

With little more than $140,000 left to raise, it may still seem like a large feat, but the Rev. Clinton Miller, who has pastored at BMBC for 12 years, believes that the church will reach its goal.

“I think we’ll do it,” Miller said. “Above all else, we are a church, so we have faith.”