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Woodworking retiree recruits others to make 3-inch crosses

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Winning a door prize at a Jacksonville Woodworking Club meeting usually means claiming a $5 bill. But on one occasion, members had a choice of the money or a small wooden cross tied on a string.
Woodrow Connors, a member of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in the Florida city who started the club in 1989, decided he’d rather have one of the crosses fellow member Dan Crawford had made. To his amazement, the four other winners of door prizes also chose a cross, and the $5 bills remained unclaimed.
Other members also were interested in the crosses and tried to convince the winners to sell them the items.
Conners recalls thinking, “The cross shouldn’t be something to keep to yourself; it’s something to share and give away.” He handed his cross to a club member, who then gave it to a relative in the hospital.
After getting instructions from Crawford on how to make the crosses, Connors made his first batch four years ago. He gave 60 crosses to First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, for distribution to new members. Requests for more crosses came in more quickly than he could fill, so Connors began giving away instructions for making the crosses.
The three-inch-tall “mirror crosses” are intended to hang on vehicles’ rearview mirror “to give exposure to the cross,” Connors said. His other goal is to encourage laypeople with carpentry skills and equipment to make and distribute the crosses in their communities and on mission trips.
Connors makes a 14-inch-tall version of the crosses inscribed with the word, “Jesus,” which several churches in Jacksonville display. They can be found at North Jacksonville Baptist Church, Fort Caroline Baptist Church, Murray Hill Baptist Church and Atlantic Highlands Inland Baptist Church.
When Crawford died of leukemia several years ago, members of the Jacksonville Woodworking Club joined in the cross-making in Crawford’s honor.
Area churches and businesses donate lumber, yarn and beads to the club for the crosses so that members rarely have to buy materials.
Connor spends days in his garage shop cutting strips of wood to size. He shapes, glues and coats the crosses individually before hanging them on a wire line to dry. He then carries them to the dining room, where he and his wife, Miriam, string them with red yarn, secured by a heart-shaped red bead.
Connors said he started making the crosses because he saw the possibilities of using them to reach people with the gospel. To date, the 85-year-old retired building contractor has made and given away more than 10,800 crosses to individuals and churches around the world.
Wesley Mosley, director of Amazing Grace Ministries, incorporates the crosses into relief boxes the nondenominational evangelical organization sends overseas. As a result, Connors has received letters from as far away as India, Egypt, Romania, Ukraine and the Philippines thanking him for the crosses.
“People ask if I ever get tired of making the crosses and, yes, I do sometimes-until I start giving them out and hear what it has meant in someone’s life,” Connors said. “Then, I can’t wait to make more.”
Connors added he wants to encourage others to share in the blessing of making and distributing the crosses. To request cross-making instruction sheets, send a self-addressed, stamped large envelope to Mirror Crosses, Woodrow Connors, 4916 Glade Hill, Jacksonville, FL 32207.

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  • Kristi Hodge