When First Lutheran Church in Bemidji, MN underwent a remodeling and addition project they encountered a problem. One of the beautiful stained glass windows in the church was no longer receiving natural daylight because it was facing the new addition. With other stained glass windows still exposed to daylight, this was a noticeable issue.


To give the impression of daylighting, Gausman & Moore’s engineering team designed an innovative backlighting system for the window. LED lights were installed in between the window and addition wall. A print of the image on the stained glass window was then put in place to cover the LED lights. The result is a window that projects lighting that is consistent with other windows in the church and projects the image that way it was originally intended.


The G&M team determined that backlighting the existing stained glass window was the best option, based on conversations with the architect (Karvakko) and reviewing existing conditions. The flat panel style LED light fixture was selected for the following benefits:


  • Depth/space for mounting the light fixture was minimal and the overall depth of the LED flat panel fit that minimum space requirement.
  • A dimming driver was also incorporated into the light fixture to provide adjustability of the perceived brightness of the fixture compared to the other naturally lit stained glass windows.
  • Flat panel light fixture provided uniform lighting behind stained glass window to mimic natural daylight/sun. The overall depth of the space was also a concern in regards to the light fixture creating “hot spots.” The continuous flat panel arrangement provided the uniformity required to eliminate that potential.

The innovative aspects of this solution included the type and style of light fixture selected that provide uniform illumination that mimics natural daylight. The control scheme is opposite of normal lighting control, meaning lights turn on during daylight hours and turn off at dark. Karvakko and church representatives viewed a sample light fixture and mock-up scenario. The consensus was that the light fixture would provide adequate uniform illumination they had envisioned.


The innovative solution is an example of Gausman & Moore’s commitment to accommodating the needs of clients, regardless of the project’s size.

Caption: The stained glass window in First Lutheran Church prior to G&M’s lighting solution.








Caption: The stained glass window (left) after G&M’s innovative lighting solution.








Caption: The view of the newly illuminated stained glass window in the church’s new addition area.