July 11, 2008
Mighty big cross you've got there

Um, okay.

Grace Community Church is raising money to build two enormous crosses that its pastor says will mark the entrances to Houston on Interstate 45. The crosses will likely rank among the largest in the world.

Counting their bases, the crosses would reach up to 200 feet. Each would dwarf I-45's current symbol of Texas largeness. "Big Sam" Houston, the colossal statue in Huntsville, stands 77 feet tall with its base.

The symbols of Christianity would tower over Grace's freeway-hugging campuses: the south campus at Dixie Farm Road, and the new north campus just south of The Woodlands. Combined, they serve 12,000 members.

Part building, part sculpture, each cross would include a "prayer center" about 40 feet off the ground -- a "Space Needle-type place," Pastor Steve Riggle said -- where Christians from all over Houston could come to pray for the city's well-being.

An openwork globe 60 feet in diameter, with latitude and longitude lines crisscrossing the continents, would top the prayer center. The bottom of the cross would be visible through the globe.

Riggle sees the crosses as a symbolic stand against moral decay. "The freeways are littered with sexually oriented businesses," he said. "I'd rather see something that stands for hope, life and faith."

To each his own, I guess. It's their money, and if they think this is a good use of it - we don't know how much money, since Riggle won't say what his fundraising goal is - then go for it. At least it's not in any part of town I drive through much, so it'll be easy for me to ignore. John has more.

UPDATE: The artist's rendering is here. You do have to see it to believe it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 11, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

Oh, my. *I* will have to drive by the one on Dixie Farm Road to get to my folks' place in Dickinson. Great.
And I do love how the one church has the billboard beside Heartbreakers strip club on 517 @ I-45, where they regularly tune in with "Jesus heals the broken hearted."

Posted by: sccs on July 11, 2008 9:30 AM

Wow, you really need to post the picture so that we can all appreciate how over the top this is. From their drawing it doesn't look like any of the parts of the project - steps, building, chapel, globe, or cross - relate to each other. What they need to complete the project is a statue of Buddy Christ welcoming people at the base of the steps.

Posted by: Jeb on July 11, 2008 10:07 AM

Glad it's their money and not mine. Pass those offering plates, folks.

Posted by: Dennis on July 11, 2008 1:22 PM

We love our Pastor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am proud and honored to support Pastor Steve Riggle 150 percent!!
Steve Riggle for President! (Hey! That's an AWESOME confession!)
God Bless You!
Gloria - Houston, TX

Posted by: Gloria on July 11, 2008 3:19 PM

It'd appear that Grace has actually made a subtle point about global warming. Note the absence of the Aleutian Islands in that rendition!

Seriously, though, I think the main point to consider here involves the safety of having a 200-ft structure like that so close to a major freeway along Hurricane Alley. I'm not sure what's comparable by way of suggesting it'd be fine and dandy - it may very well be. But the spectacle of nearly three Sam Houstons standing over a freeway (Sam is actually offset quite a bit) strikes me as a little unnerving.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on July 11, 2008 4:46 PM

At 200 feet high, I hope they'd be designed with some protection from lightning strikes, and/or be built of fire-retardant material. One of those things aflame would NOT be the message Grace wants to send out to welcome people to Houston....

At least it's a more reasonable scale than the ones some people wanted to build on the WTC site (check out the 50-story cross (#6)).

Posted by: Ken on July 14, 2008 9:07 AM
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