The congregation of approximately 100 people was debt-free at the time, and the project was expected to carry a $232,000 price tag. The expense of site preparation added another $2,000 to the cost of what has been dubbed “The Majestic Cross.”
Thanks to a steady stream of donations from mostly local supporters, the church recently held a note-burning ceremony for the 20-year loan that was taken out in 2010.
“The people of Walker County have donated and paid for this cross,” Pastor Dale Hyche said.
The task was accomplished without any major fundraisers.
Although some church members had mild reservations after a special conference was called in November 2009, the bulk of the criticism came from the community after the project was announced.
Many of the protestors questioned whether the $234,000 would have been better spent on other ministries, such as meals for the hungry.
However, church members staunchly defended their vision as well as their belief that God had given them a unique opportunity with the interstate being constructed so close to their property.
“The cross will witness to more people than the whole congregation could in their lifetime,” Hyche said.
The church is also involved in other forms of ministry, such as sending a mission team to Honduras for the past six years.
Four years after the cross was erected, church members have heard many stories about people who have found solace and inspiration while passing by on I-22.
In return, one anonymous visitor left a mysterious gift at its base: a large area rug featuring children of all nationalities holding hands around the globe. The rug is now displayed in the church foyer.
A scrapbook on the cross includes several emails from individuals commending church members for the effort.
One man wrote in an email that the ‘Majestic Cross’ “restores hope” even for those like himself who are skeptical of Christendom.
“What about the 232,000 people that will drive by that cross and be inspired to do something for others?...I have no intentions of stepping foot into a church or anything church related, but this cross definitely gets the message out there,” he stated.
The church is now selling pavers to fund the construction of a prayer garden around the cross.
The bricks will help make the area accessible to people with special needs.
Hyche emphasizes that all are welcome at the cross.
“It’s not for us. It’s for Walker County,” he said.