Heritage USA

Church plans sale of Tiffany window to help homeless

Pastor hopes “miracle” may provide alternative solution

BOSTON. In an act of selfless purpose, a dwindling congregation in Vermont has voted to sell its valuable, stained-glass Tiffany window so it can keep operating a homeless shelter. But if the needed funds were wondrously to appear, the church would gladly accept the miracle. Small gifts, including a ten dollar bill with a note saying “you have given me hope”, have arrived since the vote was announced, the Reverend Suzanne Andrews, pastor of the church, told The Art Newspaper.

In November, the membership of the First Baptist Church in Brattleboro, Vermont voted 20 to four to sell the Tiffany work, which depicts St John the Divine, to raise funds for winter heating bills, the homeless shelter and repairs for a badly leaking slate roof. From December through March, the shelter gives 30 to 50 guests per night a hot meal, a sleeping bag and a warm place to sleep, said Sylvia Seitz, the church treasurer. The window, signed by Tiffany Studios and inscribed as a memorial to the son-in-law of a prominent church member, was installed in 1910.

The gothic-style building also holds three other stained glass windows. “Church records indicate they are by Tiffany, but expert opinion is not conclusive,” Ronald Andrews, the pastor’s husband and the church’s controller, said. The church has been offered $75,000 for its confirmed Tiffany piece, but a Vermont auctioneer has cited a value of $100,000 to $120,000. Reverend Andrews said the vote was an act “of faith and hope”.

The decision to sell could yet be reversed. If a donor came forward with the needed funds “it would be a miracle for the church and the community”, which does not want the window to leave Brattleboro, she said. Her husband added: “This is up to God.”

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