April 19, 2014

India Hook Methodist cross serves as a reminder of church’s past

The large cross was built from the wood of a tree planted by a longtime church patron who died several years ago.

There’s nothing unusual about a cross at a church, particularly on Easter. But at India Hook United Methodist Church, the story behind its cross is a reminder of the congregation’s historic past.

In the early 1980s, Sherwood Cannon, a longtime active church member, planted an oak tree to provide shade for the sanctuary. Two decades later, in 2007, the tree had to be torn down to widen Twin Lakes Road, said Pearl Gregory, who at 93 is India Hook’s oldest member.

But rather than just let the tree disappear into a dumpster, the church, which has been in existence since 1850, commissioned a North Carolina man to use the wood to create the Cannon Heritage Cross.

The cross was dedicated on Palm Sunday in 2008. Cannon died in 2009 at the age of 99.

Suspended above the main altar in the church’s sanctuary, India Hook’s cross is about seven feet tall and solid as can be, weighing 600 pounds, said church member Sylvia Stathopoulos.

During Lent, the cross was covered in purple cloth. The cloth was changed to black for Good Friday and then to white in time for Sunday morning’s Easter celebration, said the Rev. Tony Adams, who started at India Hook last June. A crown of thorns has hung on the cross, too.

“The cross is awesome because our own church people had a hand in fashioning it,” Adams said.

The cross hangs across from a large stained glass window. Stathopoulos said when the light is right, it’s a sight to behold.

“It’s just beautiful when the sun is back there,” she said.

For Gregory, who knew Cannon well and has been a member of India Hook since 1951, the cross is a symbol, not just of Jesus, but of what a church community can do together.

“Miss Cannon always said that anything we attempted at India Hook, God was with us,” Gregory said.

And in today’s ever-changing world, symbols like India Hook’s cross can be a constant and a sign of home, and not just during the Easter holiday, Adams said.

“When everything else around us is changing, God’s love for us though His son Jesus Christ is always the same,” he said. “The cross is always present in our lives, just as God’s love is available to all who would receive it.”

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