Ministry revives to plant crosses across U.S.
March 11, 2005
|A UMNS photo by John Gordon
This group of crosses near Vicksburg, Miss., is one of 2,000 clusters built between 1984 and 1993.
By John Gordon*
Miss. (UMNS)—Beginning in 1984, Bernard Coffindaffer spent all the
money he had – around $3 million – erecting thousands of crosses
throughout the United States as a roadside testimony.
a Mississippi-based ministry hopes to pick up where the late
businessman and United Methodist lay minister left off, and plant
crosses along every interstate.
“I just think it’s a marvelous project,” said United Methodist Peggy Griffin, executive assistant for Crosses Across America, an all-volunteer, nondenominational ministry dedicated to scattering the Christian symbol nationwide.
The goal is to reach non-Christians and to remind Christians that “there is hope in Jesus Christ.”
job includes tracking the nearly 2,000 three-cross clusters that
Coffindaffer’s crews built in 29 states and the Philippines. Many have
fallen into disrepair since they went up between 1984 and 1993, when
Coffindaffer ran out of money and died.
would hate to think that this man spent as much time, effort and money
to get these crosses erected,” Griffin said, “only to have them just be
allowed to stand and rot from neglect or whatever.”
Crosses Across America plans to erect crosses every 50 miles along the nation’s more than 40,000 miles of interstate highways.
|Courtesy of Crosses Across America
Bernard Coffindaffer hoped to "make one person stop and think" by erecting crosses along interstates.
a very expensive project. The logistics of it are mind-boggling,” said
Sara Abraham, executive director and founder of Crosses Across
group plans to launch a fund-raising drive during 2005. Abraham
estimates materials alone will cost between $5 million and $7 million.
“People are praying for this project all around the country today and
around the world,” she said.
made his fortune in the oil and coal industries in West Virginia. After
two heart operations, he sold his businesses and began preaching at
United Methodist churches and building crosses. His goal was simple: to
“make one person stop and think.”
to letters Abraham has collected, many lives have been touched by the
roadside symbols. Travelers sometimes stop and pray at the crosses.
“There are a lot of stories,” she said.
instance, a Maryland man wrote: “I pass these crosses every day on my
way to work, and they have become an important part of my daily
Each cluster includes three crosses. The tallest stands 25 feet high, and the two flanking crosses are 22 feet tall.
such cluster rises out of a farm east of Vicksburg. Owner David
Aldridge says the image offers drivers along Interstate 20 a refuge
“from everyday life and the things they go through—the troubles, the
problems.” Even Aldridge notices them each time he pulls into his farm.
“And it does make you think,” he said.
Church groups are repairing some of the original crosses in Mississippi,
cutting weeds, straightening poles and providing a fresh coat of paint.
|A UMNS photo by John Gordon
Peggy Griffin volunteers for
Crosses Across America.
original crosses were made of California Douglas fir, but Abraham is
investigating using a more durable Fiberglas material for new ones.
group wants to recruit volunteers in every state to find locations,
work with landowners and maintain crosses after they are erected. So
far, there is no shortage of helpers.
“There are so many people out there who are willing,” Griffin said. “I never cease to be amazed.”
started Crosses Across America after reading a newspaper article about
the end of Coffindaffer’s ministry after his death. She placed the
article in her Bible. Five years later, when it fell out, she felt led
to continue his passion. She is now a full-time volunteer and is
confident the group will raise enough money to fund the effort.
one will ever know the far-reaching impact of these crosses,” she said.
“What you do is you put them out there and you pray that every single
person that sees them is ministered to by them.”
*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer in Marshall, Texas.
News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5458 or firstname.lastname@example.org.