Gladden Window

Photo Credit above: Peter John Gates

Commemorating the 105th Anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Washington Gladden

The Life Eternal
By Melissa Blandi Kulwicki
“Gladden Is Dead” read the headline of the Columbus Citizen on July 2, 1918. The Columbus Evening Dispatch reported “Columbus’ First Citizen Summoned” accompanied by an illustration of the Rev. Washington Gladden in his study. Over the next several early July days of 1918, the death of Rev. Gladden was big news. One illustration pointed out that he had “The Love of our Entire Community”, “National Respect”, and “International Veneration.” This man, a pioneer of the social gospel movement, was deeply loved, incredibly admired, and widely celebrated. The message of Rev. Gladden and his contemporaries like Lyman Abbott, Charles Monroe Sheldon, and Walter Rausenbusch was a simple one: apply Christian ethics such as charity and justice to social problems, you know as Jesus did. They believed the problems of social justice such as economic inequality, poverty, crime, racial tension, women’s rights, child labor, inadequate education, and lack of housing, were better solved by shifting focus from individual sin to reforming the structures of society and institutions. They recognized that in order to “form a more perfect union” and provide “liberty and justice for all,” mercy and justice were both key elements. 

The influence the social gospel had on the evolution of America in the 20th and into the 21st century is obvious. In the 1930s during America’s darkest economic days, some of the seeds planted by the Social Gospel came to fruition. The rise of organized labor and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal had ideals that were rooted in religious social reform. In a letter dated July 18, 1952, to his then-future wife Coretta Scott, the self-described “advocator of the social gospel,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote; “Let us continue to hope, work, and pray that in the future we will live to see a warless world, a better distribution of wealth, and a brotherhood that transcends race or color. This is the gospel that I will preach to the world.”
Designed and built by Oliver Smith, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.
The gift of Mrs. Frank L. Hughes and Mrs. Edward B. Merkle
In memory of Frank L. Hughes.
This window interprets the two central ideas -in the message of the
Rev. Dr. Washington Gladden, minister of this Church from 1882 to 1918
-Charity and Justice. These are presented in the two large central
figures and also by the small figures at the top.
In the lancet at the left of the large figure of "Charity" the three
upper medallions represent the three principal expressions of CharityThe
Friendly Visitor, The Ministry to the Sick, and Feeding the Hungry.
At the right of the large figure of "Justice" are three medallions
which suggest those conceptions of social justice emphasized by Dr. Gladden:
The Co-operation of Capital and Labor; Arbitration of Industrial
Disputes; Citizenship.
The four lower medallions, which serve as a praedella for the whole
window, are personally commemorative of Dr. Gladden. Beginning at the
left are seen - The Gladden Pulpit used for so many years in the old
church; The Gladden Study in the old Tower; The Hills of Williamstown
reminiscent of the Williams hymn "The Mountains" which he wrote
for his Alma Mater; and at the extreme right, the hymn "O Master, Let
Me Walk With Thee" which has carried Dr. Gladden's name throughout
the world.
Gladden Window – Charity and Justice, Photo Credit: Joe Bellissimo

The above from a scan of the original 1931 Descriptive Guide
(from the collection of the Rev. Dr. Timothy Ahrens)

  • Gladden Window - Charity and Justice
The Columbus Dispatch December 6th, 1931