The most identifying feature of our church building is the Stained Glass Cross wall. This beautiful piece of artwork faces west, catching the setting sun and illuminating the nave.
The current church building was completed and dedicated in 1968. The design and construction of this wall started in 1966 with Muriel Trapp and Alan Vigland.
As a highly regarded ceramic artist, interior decorator, and member of First Congregational Church of Benzonia, Muriel Trapp with Alan Vigland came up with the idea of the large, translucent glass cross as the modern stained glass window for the front wall of the sanctuary. Alan had seen large blocks of colored glass and how they were cast in concrete blocks while living in the Lansing area. With Alan’s help and suggestion of scale, Muriel designed the cross and presented it to the building design committee.
As the committee happily approved the concept and design, Alan then acquired the glass in proper thickness and colors from a downstate glass company. Over several days, the glass blocks were laid out on the living room floor of the Trapp house in Benzonia. Alan and Muriel moved them about to put the right colors in the right places to form the cross and starburst design. When the glass was laid out just as they wanted it, Muriel made another drawing to assist the construction workers.
Creating the concrete blocks was another undertaking. Jim Rogers of Chimney Corners worked with Alan to cast the glass in concrete blocks. The glass was coated with some kind of wax on both sides and then placed in wood box molds while concrete was poured around each piece. When dry, the blocks were taken out of the molds and the glass cleaned off. They were then taken to the construction site and stacked together in the right order according Muriel’s drawing to create the wall and the stained glass cross.
Muriel Trapp’s artwork can also be seen in the ceramic lamps that hang from in the nave. Alan and Susie Vigland’s artwork is shared in the stained glass windowpanes of the doors that welcome you into the nave.
This information has been provided by Rev. Dr. Ned Edwards, Muriel Trapp’s son-in-law.