The First Baptist Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, is facing a crushing budgetary crisis. The roof is leaking, the walls are peeling, the furnace is ancient and its homeless shelter has 4 times the occupancy it had just 2 years ago. The $8,000 they have left in the bank isn’t even going to tide them through the winter, especially since the shelter runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means huge power and gas bills.
So two months ago the congregation had a meeting about the financial fix and they decided to sell the church’s crowning glory: a 1910 signed Tiffany Studios stained glass window of St. John the Divine. The 9-foot tall, 33-inch wide beauty was donated by wealthy supporters 100 years ago.
“The Tiffany, as beautiful as it is, is a material thing. And the choice was, should we keep the Tiffany? Or should we sell the Tiffany, and keep our doors open. So that’s what we’ve decided to do,” said Pastor Sue Andrews.
The pastor said that in the midst of the recession, the church’s donations in the weekly offering have dwindled.
An antique dealer told the pastor that the window would make an estimated $40,000 to $60,000 at auction. Since the AP first carried this story a few weeks ago, the church has received multiple bids, the highest for $75,000. They’re still praying for a miracle donation that will allow them to keep operating the church and shelter without having to sell the window.
I wish them to best, but it doesn’t look good. They’re not the first church to have to sell itself to get by in this economy. An Episcopal church in New Jersey had to sell three Tiffany windows to raise money for operations.