clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stained Glass is Dying Out, Thanks to the Modern Megachurch

Stained glass may be "going the way of the pipe organ," Steve Fridsma, a Michigan-based architect who specializes in churches, tells the Wall Street Journal, and its the modern megachurch what done it. Declining church attendance, paired with the rise of non-denominational congregations with churches that aim for a "more modern aesthetic" (and end up looking like 1980s office buildings) now spells trouble for a 13,000-year-old industry. Where once, most of Fridsma's projects involved stained glass, now it's only about 15 percent of them.

It's gotten so bad that artisans are actively avoiding religious overtones:
"I'll refer to it as art glass. Architectural glass. Leaded glass," says David Judson, a fifth-generation owner of a stained-glass studio in Los Angeles started in 1897. Like some of his peers, he is also increasingly targeting projects without religious overtones: His recent jobs include gift shops at a Shanghai amusement park and the entrance of a Hollywood boutique hotel.In the past, stained glass was a great way to teach bible stories to the unlettered masses. Now, though:
Church architects and experts say modern churches rely more on video and photo slideshows, which they say connect with attendees more than the static imagery of stained glass. "They want to have it dark, so they can project PowerPoint onto a screen," says Richard Gross, editor of Stained Glass Quarterly. [Stained Glass Quarterly!!]Darks days indeed, when the blood of the Lamb is rendered in PowerPoint. All the smart artisans would do well to get into religious clip art. Window Pains: Stained Glass Faces Dark Days [WSJ via Archinect]