By Keiron Jones
6 August 2022
Two stunning new stained-glass windows pay testament to 13 decades of ministry at St John’s Anglican Church Flinders.
The parish of Flinders with Balnarring has been a thriving Anglican presence on the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula for well over a century, 130 years in the case of St John’s Flinders and 106 years at St Mark’s Balnarring. The Christian message of Jesus’ love for the world remains just as potent today as it did all those years ago.
In January this year, St John’s Flinders celebrated its 130th anniversary with a wonderful parish service followed by morning tea in the gardens. It was a delight to welcome the Right Reverend Dr Paul Barker, Bishop of Jumbunna, to officiate at the service and the celebration afterwards. He blessed a beautiful new Bible, donated by a parishioner, and most especially, dedicated two stunning stained-glass windows which have been installed at St John’s.
These windows were designed, created and installed by parishioner and internationally recognised glass artist, David Wright, and his wife, the Reverend Sue McPhee-Wright. They form part of a series of three “Sea Windows” – The Storm, The Way, and The Light.
Each window weaves the story of Christ with the beauty and fragility of nearby coastal ecologies. They are truly exquisite artworks which generations of parishioners and visitors will enjoy. They invite the viewer to sit quietly, to take time to appreciate the myriad intricate details captured in glass, and to contemplate our natural world as well as the person of Jesus who can calm storms, who is the Way, and who is the Light of the World. Sitting at different times of the day affords the viewer shifting subtleties of light and colour, and perhaps fresh ways of pondering who Jesus is and what he means for us and our world.
Below is text from the panel describing the window titled The Storm.
The Storm: Holding fast in the deep.
This window shows the boat in danger of being swamped by the waves whipped up by the storm. Jesus has his arm outstretched in protection of the disciples, chiding them “Why are you afraid, you of little faith? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a dead calm.” Matt. 8:23-27.
The design celebrates the deep sea, with its forests of kelp holding fast to the rock. Just so must we hold fast to our faith in times of storm. Common to Flinders are the squid and stingrays. Anemones, snails, limpets, and abalone abound. An occasional visitor, the stranger arriving on our shore, is the fragile and beautiful nautilus, a reference to the first window on the north side. Arching overall is the rainbow, God’s covenant with all of humankind.
The third and final window, The Light, which was completed and installed as recently as early July, is full of delicate details which depict the local coastal fauna and the sea creatures which coexist in this natural wonderland. At the apex of the window is a lighthouse surrounded by rainbows, symbolic of Jesus as the Light of the World. This window will be dedicated on 4 December. A composer has been commissioned to write a special musical piece which will be performed at an afternoon recital for the first time on this day.
The three windows – The Storm, The Way, The Light – are masterpieces created to the glory of God. The parish is enormously grateful to David and Sue for their superb works and the theology which underpins their extraordinary creativity. These windows are a treasured gift to this parish and the wider community. We are immensely grateful to David and Sue and to the benefactors and community who have commissioned or crowdfunded the windows. Everyone is warmly welcome to come and see the windows and enjoy the beauty of God’s good world encapsulated in these artworks.
The Reverend Kieron Jones is vicar of the Anglican Parish of St John’s Flinders with St Mark’s Balnarring.