Father-daughter team shares gifts for art
Heisey’s work together to create stained-glass windows for Mount Joy church.by Marty Crisp
Mount Joy Mennonite Church, built a year ago at 320 Musser Road in Mount Joy, Pa., still has its new-church smell.
The spacious colonial brick building has something else new since August.
At the 10:15 a.m. worship service Aug. 12, the congregation celebrated the dedication of a unique piece of stained glass art set into the front wall of the sanctuary.
“This piece,” says Joe Sherer, pastor at Mount Joy Mennonite, “shows how a community of people, centered around Jesus, invites individuals, despite their own struggles or brokenness, to use their God-given abilities to bless others.”
The striking, dove-emblazoned purple, blue and green cross, installed at the church that weekend, demonstrates the talents of congregant Craig Heisey, 49, and his 19-year-old daughter Katie.
“As my health went down,” Heisey says from his wheelchair, “I thought it would never happen.”
A graphic artist who grew up in Hershey, Pa., Heisey is a 1979 graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and worked for nearly a decade as art director of Good Books in Intercourse, Pa.
He made his first stained-glass piece as a gift for his wife, Linda, 26 years ago.
Since then, he’s made many stained-glass lamps, stars and candleholders. But the 7½-by-5-foot cross was to be his first window.
Then, in 2004, Heisey began limping when he walked. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like symptoms began to steal both his manual dexterity and his mobility.
The father of four was confined to a wheelchair about the same time the new church opened the doors on its expansive 29-acre campus.
Like the exterior of the church, with its plain glass windows, the interior speaks to traditional Mennonite simplicity.
The gray walls are decorated only with white chair-rail paneling, making the colorful backlit cross shine like a beacon.
“I think we have neglected the visual part of worship for too long,” Pastor Sherer says.
The Heiseys, struggling with a father’s disability and a younger daughter’s mental handicaps, never gave up on their vision.
The oldest daughter, Katie, a sophomore at Bethel College, Mishawaka, Ind., volunteered to spend her summer making her Dad’s dream window a reality, working in his stained-glass workshop in the family garage.
When she was a senior at Donegal High School, Mount Joy, Pa., Katie won a national Scholastic Art award for her pottery.
She also started working in the medium of stained glass while in high school.
“I’d been watching Dad for years,” Katie says.
“I’d only done small pieces, and wasn’t sure I could do something this big. The way it turned out, I couldn’t have done it without him, and he couldn’t have done it without me,” she says.
“I was his hands.”
Marty Crisp of Lancaster Newspapers.
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By Marty Crisp of Lancaster Newspapers