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'Glorious' windows adorn new home of Keene church

Union Leader Correspondent

March 13. 2013 10:51PM

"The Good Shepard," a 111-year-old, 18-foot-tall stained glass is the center pierce of the new Trinity Lutheran Church building in Keene. The church is holding a dedication service for its new building on Saturday. (COURTESY)

KEENE - Trinity Lutheran Church is holding a dedication service Saturday for its new building at 100 Maple Ave.

The service is planned for 2 p.m., with tours of the church between between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and again after the service.

About 13 years ago, when members of 60-year-old congregation decided to build a new 375-seat church on the campus of their newly built school on Maple Ave, it seemed like an impossible undertaking for the small congregation, said church member Steve Vekasy.

But this was exactly the kind of project church members like: one that requires God's help, Vekasy said. He cited the creation of the construction of the 125-student school as an example of such a project.

Naysayers said church members wouldn't get the school up and running, he said. That's OK, he told them, because it means God would get all the credit when the school proved a success.

Trinity Lutheran, which had offered preschool since the 1950s, expanded its education mission in 2000 with the opening of Trinity Christian School. After the school opened, the next step was to build a new church on the site, to unite the facilities, Vekasy said.

Once another church purchased Trinity Lutheran's former home in 2011, the congregation was able to proceed with plans for the new building.

Since then, church members have been worshiping in the school gymnasium.

The first service at the church took place on Sunday, and, on Friday night, Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of Baron and Maria von Trapp of "The Sound of Music" fame, performed in the new building as a benefit for Keene's 100 Night Shelter, raising about $2,500.

"The people that came were very generous," Vekasy said.

Adorning the new church are five antique stained glass windows. Most prominent is the 18-foot-tall Good Shepherd window, located behind the altar.

Commissioned in 1882 by St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, the window was installed in 1902. The building later became the home of Third Mission Baptist Church, which put the Good Shepherd window up for sale when it built a new church in 1998.

The following year, husband-and-wife congregants of Trinity Lutheran, bought the window at auction, hoping it would one day be installed in a new home for their church.

At last that day arrived.

And the Good Shepard window is not alone.

"On the sides of our church, we have four late-1800s windows that were donated to us by the First Baptist Church of Keene," Vekasy said. "The windows existed in their gothic downtown church that was demolished in the '60s."

For years, those windows remained stored in crates in a local dairy-farm barn.

"Years ago, the barn burned down, but the fire stopped before the windows and the windows were not harmed," Vekasy said. "And at one point, our good friends at the Baptist church offered to give them to us."

Now, he said, the windows have found a fitting home.

"They are glorious. The windows are glorious, incredible art," he said.

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