AREA I - The Nave (East and West)
This building was designed by the architectural firm of Heyl-Treby-Howard-Philips of Allentown, with Mr. John Philips of the staff responsible for the design of the building. Harold Blacker, Inc., of Wescoesville was the general contractor. The building, which contains 10,000 square feet of space on the upper and lower levels, was constructed at a cost of slightly less than $300,000.00.
The exterior of the building is designed to resemble an ark, which is the symbol for the church. The spire on the center of the building, directly above the altar rises 48 feet from the roof, and contains the bell of the original building which has been electrified and can be rung automatically at any hour of the day as well as tolled. The wood-deck ceiling is three inch planks laid end-to-end and finished in a natural finish to allow the beauty of the grain to be seen. The arches are laminated (glued) and provide tremendous strength as a support for the roof. A ramp on the Railroad Street end of the building, leading directly from Biddle Street, allows persons to enter the church without climbing any steps.
The interior of the church has been designed in a semi-round arrangement, and is one of the few times this arrangement has been used in a rectangular building. The church has always been thought of as the "Family of God" and the arrangement of the altar in the center of the nave, with the people gathered around it, emphasizes this "family" concept.
The location of the altar and pulpit emphasizes the Reformed concept of worship: namely, that worship is primarily a service of both Word and Sacrament. The central position of the altar and pulpit bears witness to this fact. The central position of the pulpit also emphasizes the importance of preaching in the Reformed tradition of worship. The baptismal font has been made a part of the altar to symbolize the two sacraments of the Protestant Church: Baptism and the Holy Communion. The altar has been designed to be used on all four sides, and allows all the liturgical action to be performed in the midst of the congregation.
The location of the choir allows them to maintain a leadership position in the service of worship, while, at the same time, maintaining them as a part of the congregation. In no way do they become "separators" of the congregation from the liturgical action at the altar.
The nave has been designed to serve every kind of service held in St. John's Church. For our regular Sunday services and other large services during the year, the entire nave can be used, with its seating capacity of 310 in the congregation, 50 in the choir, and 75 in the narthex areas. For services of less than 150, for weddings or funerals, one end of the nave can be used alone. For services of less than 50 people, for small weddings or baptisms, the choir can be used. Actually, the building has been designed to have two smaller chapels within the confines of the entire room.
The windows, designed for the church by the Willet Studios of Philadelphia, have been executed in a new technique which consists of brilliantly colored glass, usually an inch in thickness, but up to two inches or more for special effects, and cut to the desired size. The inner surface of certain pieces is then chipped or faceted to enhance the design and add a jewel-like quality. The epoxy resin is poured around the carefully arranged pieces of glass and holds them in place to form a structural unit of great strength. It is the thickness of the glass which assures the radiance and purity of color which are the characteristics of this type of window.
The windows tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ. The large west window (Railroad St.) begins the story with the Nativity, or the birth of Christ. Included in the window are Mary, Joseph, the Christ child, the Wise Men, the shepherds and the animals.
The ribbon windows continue the Gospel record and although they are not in chronological order, each group of three has a definite theme.
Beginning at the west (Railroad St.) end of the building, the first group of three depict the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The three show:
The theme of the next group of three panels is Jesus' teaching.
- Jesus, the boy of 12, in the Temple surrounded by the scholars.
- Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan by John.
- Jesus calling the fishermen to leave their nets and follow him.
The next group of panels show three of Jesus' miracles.
- The parable of the Good Samaritan.
- Jesus setting a child in the midst of the disciples arguing about who should be the greatest.
- The parable of the Sower.
The ribbon windows are interrupted by the two larger windows over the choir. On the left is the crucifixion of Christ. He hangs on the cross flanked by the sun and the moon.
- The Wedding feast at Cana where Jesus turned the water Into wine.
- Feeding of the five thousand.
- Stilling the storm at sea.
Standing nearby is the beloved disciple John supporting Jesus' mother, Mary, who has just been commended into his care by Jesus. At the shorter end of the window is a symbol of a fish impaled on the anchor cross. The fish has been associated with Christianity even before the cross. As the anchor is a symbol of hope, this symbolizes the fact that Christ's death on the cross for the sins of the world gives hope to those who believe in Him.
The choir window on the right shows Jesus Christ emerging from the empty tomb bearing aloft the banner of victory of life over sin and death. In the adjoining panel is one of the Centurion guards recoiling in amazement when the stone is rolled away. The phoenix is used as a symbol of the resurrection. The ancients thought this mythical bird, instead of dying when old, set fire to its nest and rose rejuvenated from the flames.
The ribbon resumes with three panels which emphasize that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God.
The next group of panels show three of Jesus' miracles of healing.
- Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, who returned to the city and proclaimed him the Messiah.
- The Transfiguration where Jesus appeared to Peter, James and John, flanked by Moses and Elijah.
- Jesus giving keys to Peter after Peter told him he was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
The last group of panels show scenes of Jesus' intimate ministry, when He found occasion to speak with one or two people.
- Healing of the ten lepers, and only one stops to thank Him.
- Jesus anointing the eyes of the blind man with clay to restore sight.
- Jesus brings his friend Lazarus back to life again.
The large window on the east (Pine St.) wall shows the Great Commission. Here Jesus sends his disciples out into the then-known world, instructing them to "go into all the world…and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". This is symbolized by the open book superimposed on the globe of the world and scallop shell of Baptism with three drops of water.
- Jesus speaking with Nicodemus who came by night.
- Jesus blessing the children that his disciples tried to turn away.
- Jesus talking to Mary, while Martha prepares the meal.
The small window on the east wall of the narthex contains the symbols of St. John and is the "signature" of this parish. This church is dedicated to John who is known as the "beloved disciple." The symbol of John is an eagle, since his gospel is considered to be the most inspirational, equating his flights of inspiration with the soaring eagle which, in the window, holds an open book. The fish is an early Christian symbol used even before the cross. The Greek word for fish - Icthus - is a rebus: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. The symbol below is a chalice from which a serpent crawls. This refers to an attempt on the saint's life by his enemies who poisoned the communion wine in the chalice. But, supposedly, he was saved from death by the miracle of the poison crawling from the cup in the form of a snake.
The organ is basically the pipe organ installed in the original building in 1930 and completely rebuilt by the Fritszche Organ Co. of Allentown. They have used all the original pipes, in addition to adding a new rank of 61 pipes, but have built all new wind chests and provided a new console.
The suspended cross hanging above the altar was made by one of our own members - Mr. Daniel Geissinger - who also designed and made the processional cross. Included in the cross is the eternal light which will burn continuously to symbolize the fact that "the Lord is in His holy temple."
AREA II - The Sacristies
The west (Railroad St.) sacristy is a working sacristy where all the communion vessels are stored, candles, and the paraments for the altar and pulpit. A sink has been included in this room for washing the communion vessels after their use.
The east (Pine St.) sacristy is the pastor's sacristy where all the vestments for the pastor as well as the acolytes and crucifers will be kept. This room also contains all the electronic equipment for the bell, the public address system, and the signaling devices to the various parts of the building.
AREA III -The Choir Room
The choir room has been designed to serve as robing rooms as well as rehearsal area. The room can be divided into three areas by folding partitions with separate areas for Junior and Senior choir gown storage. Music storage cabinets have also been included in this room.
AREA IV - The Chapel and Kitchen
This area will be used for the Adult Bible Class and all other small group meetings. The chancel furnishings of the original building have been placed in this room to provide a worshipful setting for the groups using this room. A drape will be hung on the platform ;in order that the altar area can be closed when desired. A ramp has been provided for those groups desiring to serve refreshments at a meeting in the chapel.
AREA V - The Lounge, Foyer, and Rest Rooms
The Lounge is an all-purpose room which can be used for small committee meetings, a Church School class, and will also be used as the bride's room where she and her attendants can dress if desired. A signal has been included in this room from the pastor's sacristy to call them when ready for the processional.
Tow large rest rooms have been provided in this area as well as a room for the custodian. The large foyer area provides an attractive entrance to this part of the building and includes ample space for the hanging of coats.
A LIST OF ELEMENTS IN OUR CHURCH
- the entry way to the Church where we take care of the business things of the church i.e. sign up to sponsor the flowers, radio and bulletin, hand out bulletins, greet each other, hang up coats.
- A wall at the back of the pews. In our Church it separates the Nave and the Narthex and is made of glass and wood. It also functions as a protection from cold and hot air when the doors are open.
- This is the are where the congregation is seated. This is basically the pew area of the church.
- These are the bench type seats with backs. They are placed one in front of the other.
- Wooden racks attached to the back of a pew. Their function is to hold b Bibles, Hymnals, and literature.
- The walk way in front of the pews and altar rail. It runs the opposite direction of the center aisle.
- The wooden fence-like structure which separates the Nave from the Sanctuary. People will kneel here for prayer or to receive Holy Communion.
- This is the area which is surrounded by the altar rail. In Old Testament times, this part of the temple would have been called the Holy of Holies. A very sacred or holy place in a church, where divine services are performed. A place of protection from the world. The altar or communion table is housed in this area.
- In our Sanctuary we have a Communion Table rather than an Altar. It is free standing, with four legs, rather than being against the wall and more box like in appearance. This points to the centrality of Holy Communion in the worship practices of our Church. The Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior are served from this table.
- The wooden piece of church furniture which holds the Baptismal bowl. This is often free standing, but in our church it is incorporated Into the Communion Table. Thus, the two sacraments of the church, Holy Communion and Baptism, are ;in the center of our worship area. The baptismal area is covered, when not in use, by a gold dome on which you see the descending dove. Whenever you see the descending dove, it represents the Holy Spirit of God descending upon us. If the dove is not descending, then it is the dove of peace. This is the dove which came back to Noah's ark with an olive branch in its mouth.
MISSAL AND STAND
- The missal is the large book of worship in which the worship services of the church are found. This is usually placed on a stand which is called the Missal Stand. In our church we do nave a missal stand but no missal. Instead we have Bible on it.
- This is the place from which sermons are preached.
- The place from which the scriptures and liturgy are read. We do not have one of these.