McLean Church to Look through Stained Glass

The following is a transcription of an article in the Amarillo Globe-News, printed Saturday, November 6, 2010. The author is Mike Haynes.

These windows are pretty, but that isn’t the half of it.

They’ve been part of area history for more than a century—starting with the man called “the father of the Texas Panhandle,” Charles Goodnight.

The United Methodist Church in McLean is undergoing its first major renovation since the 1950s. It just so happens that the United Methodist Church in Lefors, 24 miles away, closed in the past few months, its members now attending St. Paul UMC in Pampa.

One disappointment for the Lefors Methodists was that they would have to sell two dozen beautiful stained-glass windows that were part of the church’s heritage.

Here’s the lineage of the lead-and-glass creations, according to the McLean church newsletter: They were made in England around 1900, commissioned by the Panhandle’s first rancher, Col. Charles Goodnight, for First Baptist Church in the town of Goodnight, which lies between Claude and Clarendon.

The story is that when that church closed, Goodnight gave them to a friend who was a member of the Lefors family for which the town is named. They were donated later to the Methodist Church in Lefors.

The windows were installed in 1947, and the first service conducted with light streaming through the colorful designs was the wedding on Oct. 25, 1947, of Edward Vincent and Juanita Upham. That was a Saturday and the Rev. Newton Daniel led a dedication service for the windows and other construction the next day.

Carole Nan Watson was 8 years old when the windows were installed and joined the church around that time. Soon, she’ll see them in their third home.

Her current pastor in Pampa is the Rev. Steve Cox, who preached at both St. Paul and Lefors before the Lefors church closed. Cox mentioned to the Rev. Thacker Haynes of McLean that the historic windows were available.

Haynes (who is this writer’s cousin) and the McLean congregation jumped at the chance to buy all the windows for $30,000, a bargain-basement price for 110-year-old stained glass connected to the legendary Goodnight. Despite the good deal given to the sister church in McLean, the cost doubles when moving and installing the windows is included.

The Lefors Methodist are just glad their heirlooms will stay so close. “We’re all very excited that McLean is going to get the windows, ” Watson said. “That’s going to be marvelous.

At least they’re getting a wonderful home. We were so concerned that they would be separated or they would just sit there for a long time, and we didn’t want that at all.”

The McLean Methodists aren’t swimming in cash, though, and they are taking donations to fund the project. Windows can be financed in memory or honor of loved ones by calling the church at 806-779-2337. These museum-worthy artworks are so iconic that contributions help not only the church but give new life to a piece of Panhandle history.

The Lefors people want to see them in their new setting. Watson said Cox indicated his St. Paul members probably will visit McLean when its renovations are complete.

“He plans on closing the service in Pampa, and we’ll all go to McLean so that we can go see it too,” she said.  And it would be fitting if someone from Goodnight also could follow the windows to their new church.


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