Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
9545 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring MD 20910

A Bit of History  
by Don Peterson

Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf first worshipped at Christ Lutheran Church, on 16th Street in the District of Columbia. We adopted their name. From 1947 to 1989, we used their Wenchel Chapel. I understand this was their original sanctuary. In 1965 they added seven stained glass windows to this Chapel. Christ/Deaf sponsored one of these and a panel from this window (Mark 7) was reproduced in 1990 and has become our "trademark."

Information for this is from an article printed in their newsletter in 1992 as part of their Centennial celebration. The stained glass windows of Christ Church were done by the Willet Studios of Philadelphia, who did many of the windows at the Washington Cathedral, all in the years 1959 to 1965. Those in the Wenchel Chapel were last to be installed.

The window facing the chapel entrance illustrates scripture passages which make reference to the Deaf. Isaiah 35.5, "Then ... the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." Matthew 11.5, John in prison sends two disciples to Christ who tells them, "...and the deaf hear." Mark 7.32, Jesus puts His fingers into the ears of one who was brought to Him deaf. And Mark 9.25, the deaf and dumb [sic] spirit flees from the boy at our Lord's command. This window was the gift of "members of the Chapel of the Deaf."

Four other windows depict parables of Jesus. Examples: the Pharisee and the Publican; separating the Sheep from the Goats; the laborers in the vineyard; the Rich Man and Lazarus; Wise Virgins greet the bridegroom; the Good Samaritan ministers to the man who fell among thieves; the Good Shepherd carrying the Lost Sheep; the tiny Mustard Seed that produces a large tree; the Sower casting seed; the Prodigal Son; the House on Rock; new Wine being poured into old Bottles; Rich Fool and his bigger and bigger barns

Of special interest are the windows flanking the altar. These show the "I AM" statements of our Lord. The window on the left shows representations of: I AM the Bread of Life, I AM the Door, and I AM the Light of the World. The window on the right includes

I AM from Above, I AM the Son of God and I AM the True Vine.

The article states that "because of the need of a dark background for signing, deep blues and reds were chosen for both of these windows." At the time these windows were being made, Rev. Harry Hoemann was our pastor. It is quite probable that he mentioned the need for a dark background. It is unlikely that someone unfamiliar with the deaf would suggest this.

Christ/Deaf moved to Calvary Lutheran Church in 1989. We would have liked to take "our" window with us, but of course that was not possible. Instead, we chose the Mark 7 panel and had a local deaf stained-glass craftsman (Talmadge Flanagan) reproduce it. He did an excellent job and we mounted it in a light box. This illuminated panel is the first thing a person sees upon entering the Chapel. We are grateful to the people of Calvary for permitting us to display the panel. It is still seen as you enter the doorway.