Stained glass windows should not exclude Christians who do not parade achievements, says church judge

Stained-glass windows should also honor Christians who do not flaunt their achievements instead of only highlighting the outstanding contributions of certain individuals, according to a church judge in England.

(REUTERS / GFreihalter)A stained glass painting of Noah's Ark in Saint-√Čtienne-du-Mont church in Paris, June 2, 2010

For Diocese of Blackburn chancellor John Bullimore, the current criteria for commemorating Christians in a stained-glass window is "elitist." He said art should not exclude believers who have modest achievements as there are a lot of Christians who live faithfully but are "being devalued as a consequence," The Telegraph relayed.

Bullimore's comments were part of a judgment made in September in which he decided that a church musician's husband in Out Rawcliffe, Lancashire, could be immortalized in a stained-glass window. He explained that although Henry Thomas Pearson did not have a formal position in the church, the local farmer served as "the rock" for his wife, Edith, an organist and pastoral assistant.

"It seems to me, there is something 'wrong' and rather 'unChristian' about measuring success, or memorability, only by what individuals are seen to have achieved outwardly, before their lives can be publicly remembered," said Bullimore. "There is after all, a good deal in the Gospels, about doing good in secret, and not parading it about (Matt. 6:1-6), and about doing good unselfconsciously (Matt. 25: 37ff)."

In a separate report in February, The Telegraph detailed how Bullimore allowed barrister John Jones and his wife Heather to be buried in St. Wilfrid's churchyard in Standish. Locals have opposed the couple's application, as they said the man did not go to church services often enough and that no one is allowed to reserve spaces in the churchyard.

However, Bullimore ruled that attending church regularly does not guarantee "extra Brownie points" for parishioners. He said the couple had the same right to be laid to rest in the place as any other resident there and that there was no policy against reserving space in that churchyard.