Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 10, 2013

SALISBURY — Raemi Evans grew up admiring the colorful windows at Soldiers Memorial AME Zion Church and shared their history Saturday during Salisbury’s first stained glass trolley tour.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” said Evans, who served as a volunteer docent. “It brings a degree of pride that my church was listed as one with some of the most beautiful stained glass.”
More than 50 people toured the windows at Soldiers Memorial, Haven Lutheran, St. John’s Lutheran, St. Luke’s Episcopal and Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.
The event proved so popular that Center for Faith & the Arts ran out of seats on the trolley and added a van to carry the overflow crowd. But the demand for $20 tickets continued, and several latecomers were happy to follow the trolley in their own cars.
In 1904 or 1905, Evans’ grandparents purchased a large stained glass window for Soldiers Memorial. It bears their names — Prof. James and Rose Aggrey, given in honor of their infant daughter, Abna Azalea, who is Evans’ mother.
Her grandparents’ window at Soldiers Memorial, as well as each window at the other churches, tell a story. From familiar Bible verses to depictions of the life of Jesus Christ to representations of saints, each work of art offers a lesson, as well as decoration.
Although the windows at each church were strikingly different, many used the same symbols and stories.
The variety of churches most impressed Missy Shives, a Center for Faith & the Arts board member who came up with the tour idea. She also praised the well-informed docents and input from architect Karen Alexander and stained glass artist Bill French, who rode along on the trolley.
“We want to do it again,” Shives said.
Susanna Hollingsworth, the center’s new program director, said she hopes the trolley tour will become an annual event and include churches outside Salisbury city limits.
Marsha Minnick, who recently moved to town from Maryland, said she felt immersed in Salisbury history during the tour.
“It was beautiful, just beautiful,” she said. “It has been a great, great introduction to Salisbury.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.