Seeing through a glass dimly: White Jesus, White Mennonites, and Stained Glass

“More than just a new window treatment! ”

Team Members/Contributors

Ruth Rebecca Harder Rainbow Mennonite Church Contact Me

About this pastoral study project

For now we see through a glass, dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (I Corinthians 13:12; Modern English Translation)

Regular vision checks ought to happen in every church, especially for those who seek to become anti-racist followers of Jesus. And we at Rainbow Mennonite Church have one such vision check ahead of us. We are poised to look at and perhaps re-vision our stained-glass window, which features Jesus with white-skin and European features. And while any vision check can be discouraging (very few of us have “perfect vision” after all), I hope that we will see this stained-glass project/study as an opportunity to see Jesus and one another more fully—never perfectly, of course, but perhaps we will become more aware of our racist or racist-prone projections and reflections, and understand the diminishing affects of those projections for all. Yes, we understand and see in part and through a glass dimly, but that doesn't mean we don't reach for deeper and more faithful vision, modeled after the life of Jesus.

Through books, visiting lectures/sermons by artists and theologians, visits to other churches/seminaries, engagement with the local (largely) racially diverse community, and focus groups, we anticipate that this stained-glass project will be a literal window into the ongoing work of anti-racism, not just at Rainbow but in the wider church. Rushing toward a quick and new window dressing, while tempting, would not create the lasting transformation we seek. In other words, we hope this window project will go deeper than skin-deep treatment and change. We hope others looking in on this project will learn from us and in return, we will learn from others.