Here at Green Hill we are blessed to have such beautiful stained glass windows in our Sanctuary. What you may not know is that these works of art are more than just something pretty to look at. Each window represents one of the Six Great Ends of the Church.
In 1910, the United Presbyterian Church in North America formally adopted a set of mission statements that was intended to define its life and work. Called the Six Great Ends of the Church, these brief phrases attempted to draw together elements of belief and practice that could be traced through our confessional history to the very teachings of Jesus himself as they are recorded in the Gospels.
• The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.
• The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.
• The maintenance of divine worship.
• The preservation of the truth.
• The promotion of social righteousness.
• The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Over 100 years and two denominational mergers later, these statements remain in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and they appear in the opening pages of the Book of Order.
The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind
The book represents the Scriptures. The dove is rising from the Scriptures indicating the source of both the original witness and our present understanding. The same Spirit that inspired the original writers enables us to receive the gospel. The cross behind the book and dove reminds us that the heart of the gospel is Jesus Christ, God with us and for us.
The Shelter, Nurture, and Spiritual Fellowship of the Children of God
Multi-hued hands represent all the children of God. The doves wings are tipped downward, sheltering the people of God. The triangle of light links the dove to the people.
The Maintenance of Divine Worship
The chalice, a reminder of the Trinity, represents the Lords Supper, and the three drops of water, Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit. The dove reminds us that the same Spirit is present in the Sacraments as in the proclamation of the gospel. The Sacraments enact the gospel. The raised arms signify our response of praise and thanksgiving: our worship of the living God.
The Preservation of the Truth
The banner represent the light of truth shining in the darkness. The dove reminds us that the truth we proclaim to the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ, God with us and for us. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1: 5).
The promotion of Social Righteousness
The banner represents Amos 5:24: ” But let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a everflowing stream.”
And the Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World
The dove is in flight over the globe, carrying an olive branch, echoing Gen. 6:11: “And lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.” This represents the eighth day of creation, Gods grace coming into the world, the reign of God proclaimed by Jesus Christ. The light rising behind the earth represents the dawning of God’s kingdom.