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Mississippi church dedicates 150-foot-tall cross

Hundreds attend the dedication of the Haven Cross at Easthaven Church, Brookhaven, on Good Friday, March 29. Photo from Facebook

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (BP) – Easthaven Church in Brookhaven dedicated a massive cross on Good Friday.

The cross, dubbed the “Haven Cross,” is one of the newest of 14 crosses of such magnitude scattered across the state, the most recent being built in Aberdeen. Hundreds attended the formal dedication ceremony. The 150-foot-tall cross, which cost approximately $200,000, was erected on the church’s property and is visible from Interstate 55.

Speaking at the dedication service, Jim Futral, executive director/treasurer emeritus of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, said, “I can’t think of a ‘gooder’ place to be on Good Friday than at the foot of the cross, reflecting on the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and for me.”

Easthaven Pastor Hal Kitchings offered some insight into the cross and its intended ministry.

“Back in May on a Wednesday, I decided I wanted to share some thoughts with our church,” Kitchings said. “I’d been at the church four or five months and wanted to share with them a little bit of my vision. I started with that very definition of vision — a mental picture of what could be fueled by the conviction of what should be.”

At the meeting, Kitchings shared several ideas with the congregation, one of which was the possibility of a large cross on the church’s property. The church’s location, allowing the cross to be seen by thousands of motorists every day, was a big part of it.

Two years ago, Kitchings was speaking at a youth retreat at North Greenwood (Miss.) Church, where Jim Phillips is pastor. At the time, what is now known as the “Delta Cross” was about two-thirds completed. 

“Jim said, ‘Man, I need to show you this,’” Kitchings said. “So we went to where it was being built, and he told me a little bit about how it came about.” Phillips shared some of that story during the Haven Cross Good Friday dedication service. 

Within a few days of the Wednesday service where he’d shared his thoughts, Kitchings heard from several people in the church who told him that that they too, after seeing other large crosses around the state, had had the same thought – why not one in Brookhaven?

“It was one of those ‘Experiencing God’ things where Henry Blackaby talks about finding where God is working and getting in on it,” Kitchings said. “Well, God had already been working in the hearts of some of our people and it just started rolling. … We weren’t talking about taking this out of the church budget.”

The opportunity was given for those that wished to give anonymously.

Kitchings and four laymen went to Greenwood to spend the day with Phillips. He shared what it would take for it to happen, and also told the group that they could expect some pushback.

God kept providing finances and excitement along the way. The church approved a plan. “It just developed legs and took off,” Kitchings said.

The church retained Rozier Construction in Greenwood, which has built other crosses in Mississippi and in other states, to build the cross. “Mike Rozier is a fine Christian man,” Kitchings said. “He came and met with us and told us what it would take.” The construction company made no profit on the cross; the cost to the church was materials only. Rozier led the closing prayer at the dedication.

“We’d wanted to have the cross up by the end of last year,” Kitchings said. “But weather and other things kept that from happening. It ended up being completed right around Easter, and that was a big deal.”

He noted that not all coverage of the event was positive. For instance, WLBT in Jackson, published a story with the headline, “A pastor defends his cross.”

“It’s not my cross,” Kitchings said.

He added that many people in the community had donated to the project, some anonymously, others in memory or honor of loved ones. “There was one individual who goes to another church but shared that God had blessed him financially,” Kitchings said. That individual donated $65,000 toward landscaping and other needs.

Kitchings is fond of quoting 1 Corinthians 1:18, which is written at the foot of the Haven Cross: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (ESV)

This story originally appeared in the Baptist Record.