Don and Debora Young watched anxiously as Dorothy Patterson’s dream came one window closer to fulfillment at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I’m a little nervous, because glass breaks and a million things could go wrong,” said Don Young, the artist/owner of Don Young Glass Studio, as workers installed the ninth of more than five dozen stained-glass windows destined to enhance the J.W. MacGorman Chapel.
The windows will immortalize Baptists who helped effect the culture change to more conservative attitudes in the Southern Baptist Convention, Patterson said.
“My dream was to portray the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Church,” said Patterson, wife of seminary President Paige Patterson.
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She gave Don Young photographs or other depictions of dozens of people. But Patterson also had uncommon artistry in mind when she hired Young.
“For anyone who’s interested in stained glass, there are three distinct configurations — large windows with standing poses, bust-only and transom-arched glass — tied together with common elements,” Patterson said.
There are features that will delight “anyone who loves nature, sunrises and sunsets,” Patterson said.
A window in the Dottie Riley Prayer Room in the chapel’s east tower, for instance, features the namesake standing in a field of bluebonnets, a small herd of sheep nearby.
Riley, who with her husband, Harold Riley, donated the $16 million lead gift for the chapel’s construction, “asked for sheep and bluebonnets,” Debora Young said.
Creating windows for the 3,500-seat chapel and performance center, which opened two years ago, gives Don Young a chance to use photo-etching techniques that he said he helped pioneer in the 1970s.
“In the past, I’d be doing this stuff just for my own projects,” Young said. “I’m actually enjoying the work I’m doing rather than just doing a job to make money.”
Using a subject’s photo as a guide, the artist etches the image on glass so it looks like the person in fine detail, Young said.
Dorothy and Paige Patterson will be portrayed together in a window set to be made next year, Young said.
Windows already installed include a depiction of the late W.A. Criswell, who led First Baptist Church of Dallas and was twice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is shown baptizing a man in the Jordan River, in a window just west of the chapel’s main entrance.
O.S. Hawkins, director of GuideStone, a Christian-based financial services company, and his wife, the Bible study teacher and author Susie Hawkins, are depicted side by side near Criswell’s window.
At least 69 windows should be in place when the 12-year commission is finished, Young said, and there could be more as word spreads and donors come forward.
“Some windows will have as many as five people in them,” Young said.
The beauty of the stained-glass windows transcends the historical significance of the subjects, Patterson said.
“I really hope the public will have an interest and want to come and see,” Patterson said. “I’m proud of this for Fort Worth. I think it’s pretty unique for Paige’s hometown.”