The Dora Maclellan Brown Memorial Chapel and Fine Arts Building is named in memory of a woman who was a faithful Sunday school teacher, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and a lady who desired to help equip young people for their life’s work. Dora Maclellan Brown moved to Chattanooga with her family in 1892 and taught the NYO Bible Class at Second Presbyterian Church for more than 60 years. She went to be with her Lord in 1974.
Construction of the chapel was completed and it was dedicated in 1979. The three-story structure offers an 800-seat auditorium on the main floor, where the college community regularly gathers for services and other events. The lower levels contain a smaller auditorium, a seminar classroom, offices, faculty studios, a drama workroom and storage area, and a music instrument workroom.
Three stained glass windows designed by Henry Willett of Philadelphia highlight the chapel’s main auditorium. These windows graphically depict the constancy of God’s love for His people. The largest window, the Covenant of Life window, is a colorful reminder of God’s dealings with His people in both the Old and New Testaments. This window gives a chronological record of major figures in the biblical drama and joins them together through the prevailing theme of the covenant God has established with His chosen ones. The other two windows trace the development of the church from the time of Christ to more modern days.
East Window: Covenant of Life
The bottom panel of the Covenant of Life window is a vivid portrayal of the Creation and of God’s interaction with the first family on earth: Adam and Eve and their children. This panel follows the biblical narrative of the origin of life: counterclockwise from lower right we see plants, the sun, winged creatures, the moon and stars, more plants, and, finally, beasts of both land and sea. Here, too, are the first references to the fall of man. In the upper right-hand comer are two altars. On one of them fire consumes the sacrifice while the other is left untouched. This is a depiction of the sacrifices of Abel and Cain. Adam and Eve, shown in the lower portion of the panel in an attitude of worship, appear in the upper left comer bent over with shame as they are driven out of the Garden.
Abraham and Moses
God has not left Adam and Eve in despair. Panel two begins, in the lower left-hand comer, with the protoevangel, the promise of the coming deliverer who will crush the serpent’s head with his heel. This section of the window also contains several allusions to God’s covenant promises. Dominating the panel are two major figures from the Old Testament, Abraham and Moses. Abraham gazes into the heavens at the stars, reference to God’s promise that his offspring shall be innumerable. Moses is shown with the two tables of the law, stipulations for the covenant. Surrounding these men we see, from lower right, Noah’s Ark with the covenantal rainbow around it, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence with the Israelites, and the smoking pot, reference to the covenant-sealing ceremony between God and His people.
David and the Prophets
Panel three is centered around the Davidic covenant. Here David, the singer of Israel,” is shown playing his harp while surrounding him are sheep, and, to his the words of Psalm 2:8, the parity covenant between God the Father and God the Son. Also seen in this section are three great prophets, Ezekiel (shown with a representation of his vision of the heavenly Jerusalem), Jeremiah (who is contemplating the figure of a hand inscribing God’s law on a heart), and Isaiah who, with prophetic envisions the nativity scene of Christ. The band of green light circling the infant Jesus comes from Isaiah’s eyes. Especially conspicuous in this portion of the window is the band of white glass which represents the thread of the covenants between God and His people, the theme which ties all the panels together.
Christ on the Cross
At the top of the third panel appears the word under a Menorah and a circumcision knife, elements representing Christ’s complete fulfillment of the law. This introduces us to the fourth panel in the window, a section which shows that Christ kept aspect of the Abrahamic (the Menorah, scalpel and banner of last panel); the Mosaic ceremonial and moral stipulations, (the scrolls, and tablets of stone); the wheat and grapes as forerunners of the new covenant; and bread and chalice as actual symbols of the new covenant. The center of this panel is dominated by the crucified Messiah; encircling Him are scenes of (from left to right) and Joseph looking at the baby Jesus; His meeting with Nicodemus; His post-Resurrection appearance; and His baptism by John the Baptist. Christ’s face is blank in all portrayals, thus discouraging any tendency by the viewer to consider the figures images of Christ.
The Great Commission
The next panel is introduced by the appearance at lower right, of the resurrected Christ to His disciple, Thomas. The prevailing scene here is a picture of the ascended Lord, standing atop the globe commanding His people to make disciples, baptize and In both scenes, Christ displays scars in his hands and left foot. On either side of him are crowds of men and women dispersing to obey His will. All faces are away from the Master as He commissions them. In the upper right-hand comer is a large dove, symbolic of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
The Final Supper of the Lamb
The sixth and final panel in this window is a glorious picture of the age to come when the Lord shall be joined with all His people in the New Jerusalem. Here He stands with a broken piece of bread in each hand, welcoming His people from all history to the final supper of the Lamb. They stand about His throne, worshipping. This scene also includes representations of the Tree of Life, the River of Life, the throne of God around which are gathered His children, and, at the top of the tops of the buildings which help make up the city. Just over Christ’s head appear the Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, beginning and the symbolic of the Lord’s eternal nature.
South Window: From Paul to Wycliffe
Beginning with the scene at the bottom of the south window, Paul and Barnabas are beginning their first missionary journey. Just above them Augustine is watching a child play by the seashore. Nearby is a red triangle to signify Augustine’s defense of the doctrine of the Trinity. The open book and whip above Augustine’s head is symbolic of the torture early Christians experienced in proclaiming God’s Word. Directly above this, Martin Luther is nailing his theses to the Wittenberg Door.
A number of smaller representations are present on each side of this window. From the bottom of the window, left side going up, Thomas is shown in India, Athanasius at Nicea, Ambrose baptizing Augustine, Columba setting out for Scotland, Peter Waldo preaching in the Alps and John Hus being burned at the stake. On the lower right side going up are: missionaries in Persia, the first Christian school., the Council of Chalcedon, missionaries in China, Wycliffe translating the Scriptures and Melanchthon writing at his desk.
North Window: From Calvin to Machen
The main panels of the north window show John Calvin (in the bottom window) seated writing. Above him is a red heart held in a hand symbolizing Calvin’s statement when he was converted: “Lord, I offer you my heart promptly and sincerely.” The coat of arms for the city of Geneva is in the center panel. Above this seal, Edwards and Whitfield are shown preaching. Benjamin Warfield is welcoming Abraham Kuyper to Princeton for the inauguration of the Stone lectures (1898) in the top panel. The log cabin with the blue roof (just below Warfield and Kuyper) commemorates the beginning of Princeton University. Across the top of the window a wagon is shown with a team of missionary efforts of John Nevius, who developed the Nevius plan for establishing missions in foreign lands.
Other small representations, beginning at lower left include Zwingli, the early Swiss reformer; the Scottish reformer John Knox and gravestones showing the killing-time in Scotland; two early missionaries to American Indians, John Eliot and David Brainerd; the Scottish minister and evangelist Robert Murray McCheyne; and finally, James Oliver Buswell Jr., who taught at Covenant Theological Seminary on the same campus as Covenant College when it was in St. Louis, Missouri. On the other side from bottom to top are two Swiss reformers – being driven from Allan, Switzerland; William Farel and Heinrich Bullinger; a picture of Westminster Abbey; the Baptist missionary William Carey in Burma; Charles Hodge of Princeton and James H. Thornwell of South Carolina; and finally the courtroom scene at the trial of J. Gresham Machen in 1936.