clerestory windows blinds

New Blinds Shade Altar Area

Well, it might not be immediately obvious to anyone attending a service in our church building, but some new lovely window coverings have been installed.

Our church’s interesting architectural design has a very wide and high row of clerestory windows immediately above the altar area. These let sunlight into the altar — but oftentimes they let way too much in! In the years we’ve been in our church home, there have been many times when the light was falling directly onto our priests, who are working with many layers of vestments on their bodies. And sometimes the light is bouncing off the white altar wall, giving off such a glare that might make it hard to see what’s going on. Neither situation is good.

A few years ago, a small crew from the parish went up on the roof and installed a batch of “light baffles.” These translucent corrugated plastic panels were mounted onto a wooden frame and erected just outside these clerestory windows. For a few years, they diffused the light coming through those windows and made things bearable. A year or so ago, one of the baffles finally succumbed to years of wind, sun, rain, and snow and blew away — we know not where! The remainder were bound to follow it sometime soon, so something had to be done.

The best solution for blocking, diffusing, or letting in the sunlight through these windows is a set of blinds. Fortunately, we’ve got a parishioner who’s in the window coverings biz! (Amanda Knack of The Blonde Leading the Blind.) So, we counseled Amanda for the best solution and she came up with some roller blinds that were relatively inexpensive and could be opened and closed remotely.

The big quandary then was, ‘How do we install them?’ Amanda has lots of experience with installing her product on people’s livingroom or bedroom windows, but these windows were about six feet high, starting at about 18 feet off the ground! Even a long ladder wasn’t going to provide the stability to properly install four separate motorized roller blinds in a spot about 24 feet off the altar floor!

Fortunately, Ed Berney has a friend, Peter Ord, who has his own electrical business, Ord’s Electrical in Stony Plain. Peter possesses a bunch of scaffolding that he occasionally uses for jobs and he loaned two “columns” of it for our project. With some added scaffolding, rented from a firm in west Edmonton, we ended up with a structure that spanned the entire working area:

Note that Peter also came in one day and installed a new electrical receptacle up near the blinds because they go up and down using electric motors and there was no source of power there. (Summary: Peter provided the scaffolding and did this electrical work for us — all free-of-charge.)

Over the course of about three weeks, with Peter and Ed helping to erect and derect (is there such a word? if not, there should be!) the scaffolding, we ended up with a bunch of new blinds that work swimmingly!

The installation crew consisted of Amanda, Bill Courtis (who also took these pictures), and yours truly, with Debbie Courtis standing by in case one of us fell off the scaffolding and needed first aid. (Her qualifications remain undetermined in the field of medical assistance — but she did at least indicate she knows how to dial ‘911’ on her smartphone.)

Once the blinds were installed and working properly, Ed and I ventured up on the church roof and derected (there’s that word again!) the old light baffles structure and got the plastic pieces into the garbage and most of the wood away for use in another project.

In the end, a significant asset has been added to our church building — and it’s one that few people will know exists! I recall hearing a story of one of the stonemasons building one of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. He’d improperly installed a stone somewhere up high in a corner where nobody would ever see it. When asked why he was replacing a stone that nobody would ever notice was flawed he responded, “People may not see this imperfection, but God will see it.” I think our new blinds are kinda the same.

Please take a look at Bill’s pictures of the work we did.


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