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More than works of art - downtown business owners create lasting memories in Chireno church
Posted 11 - 07 - 2008
Teresa and David Darby stand in front of stained glass windows they created and installed for Chireno United Methodist Church.

Passing by the Chireno United Methodist Church on State Highway 95, travelers may notice the building’s stained glass windows.

The windows are the creations of Glass Castles Stained Glass Studio and Gift owners David and Teresa Darby. They began the window production in the early nineteen-eighties, and today, 19 windows are installed.

“Most of the window designs are products of family stories,” Teresa said. “We met with the church’s families and did something very personal with the designs. It’s a wonderful connection that the church has with the people.”

A window that Teresa describes is a lady sitting by the fire, reading from her Bible while children are sitting at her feet as they listen to the Bible stories. “That’s the family’s fondest memory of her,” Teresa said. And another window has two men walking near a lake with angels walking toward them as if to meet them. “The lady’s husband and son both died in separate boating accidents, and the design was her image of them,” Teresa said. In another window a school counselor sits at her desk helping a student with an angel standing at the counselor’s side.

The most recently-installed window located on the front of the church portrays an army soldier in fatigues, kneeling in prayer. The window is a memorial to a Chireno family’s son, SPC Michael David Perkins.

“Michael served four years including a year in Bosnia,” said Trisha Perkins, Michael’s mother. “After serving his tour of duty in Bosnia, he came home and attended Angelina Junior College. He was called up to active duty again after September 11, and he was stationed in Umatilla, Oregon. He died in an auto accident on the base.”

“We were first contacted by the family in August 2006, and the mother came in. Her son was killed in 2002, and when they went through his belongings, they found a photograph of a stained glass window in a Kansas military base chapel. The photograph was in his foot locker. They hadn’t seen the picture until they went through his belongings after his death,” Teresa said.

Teresa said she and David produced the 33-inch by 57-inch window with that photograph as the inspiration. After the family approved the design on paper, the Darbys began cutting glass in February of 2008 and the window was installed on the Thursday preceding Easter in March 2008.

The church congregation plans to add at least two more windows, and Teresa said it will be an honor to work with the Chireno families in the church again.
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