Colossal crosses tower over I-75, after years of planning
For people living in Chattanooga, and for visitors passing through, a new addition along Interstate 75 will greet you as you drive near the Bonny Oaks Drive exit. Three colossal steel crosses were put up by a local church Thursday and it has got a lot of people's attention.
It is a project that has been about 10 years in the making. When the East Ridge Church of God relocated to Standifer Gap Road, it adopted the new name 'The Crossing Church.' The congregation saw its prime real estate along I-75 as an opportunity for outreach. But the three crosses come at a price.
The finishing touches were put on the three massive steel crosses at The Crossing Church and it was a day of celebration as pastor Terry Harris announced the completion of a 10 year vision.
"It's certainly not about, nothing to do with drawing attention to us. We really want it to be to lift Him up," says Rev. Harris.
Harris says an estimated 75,000 cars will drive past the three crosses every day.
"This is an investment in the Kingdom of God for people that will drive these roads for who knows how many years to come and see this and be reminded that there was a man named Jesus, who died for their sins so they could have hope."
It took 3,500 hours to make the steel and 230 yards worth of concrete to anchor all three crosses. The tallest stands at 125 feet, with the two side crosses at 100 feet. The overall cost for the project is $700,000.
"All of that money has come from individuals, as well as companies who've personally given, specifically for this," says Harris.
As news of the project spread, critics immediately spoke out, with one woman writing on Channel 3's Facebook page, "Think of how many hungry people could have been fed with that money." Others defended it, saying, "Just think about how many "hungry" people it will feed because they are there. "The way of the cross leads home.""
"Anybody can sit in the back seat and tell the guy trying to drive the vehicle how to do it. It's easy to do. Probably, they don't know us. They don't know that we, every week, are involved with helping people to the tune, every year, to hundreds of thousands of dollars," says Harris.
The ultimate vision is to have a prayer garden at the base of the crosses, encouraging visitors to focus on the last days of Jesus.
"The church is about community. And that's what this is about, it's community," says church member Rhonda Isbill.
A member of the church for 15 years, Isbill says it is a wise investment.
"How you could you not be excited about the man who loved you enough to give everything and give a tribute to Him?"
The three crosses will be the tallest in the Chattanooga area. The church had to get special permits and clearance from TDOT and the FAA. Harris says the church is still raising money to cover all the costs of the project.