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Western Springs Church Displays Crosses from Around the World

The display in the foyer of Western Springs’ First United Methodist features crosses from Kenya to Korea, assembled by travelling parishioners.

El Salvador. Guatemala. Sweden. Ethiopia. Haiti. South Africa. Illinois.

Crosses from all these far-flung locales now hang in the foyer of the First United Methodist Church in Western Springs as the culmination of The Cross Project, a display that has taken three years for the church to assemble and one which was officially dedicated at the end of August.

“We needed artwork for the entryway that was colorful and inviting and welcoming,” explained Carrie Shapley, chair of the church’s visual arts guild. “There are a lot of groups that use the church, and there wasn’t anything in the entryway to identity it as a church. There were a lot of people coming to the church on a weekly basis who thought it was a community center.”

It’s hard to make that mistake now, when walking past the 20-cross display, featuring the words of United Methodism founder John Wesley in 1739: “The world is our parish.”

The display aims to embody the spirit of those words, representing the worldwide reach of the ministry and the intent of First United Methodist members to think and act globally.

“The idea of inclusivity and a global perspective on ministry was very important,” Shapely said of the display. “We are not bound by our walls. The congregation is not a cloistered, inward-facing group of people who are only concerned with themselves.”

The crosses are of various shapes and sizes, everything from a Coptic cross from Ethiopia to a steel Tree of Life cross from Haiti to a St. Brigid’s cross that Shapely herself made out of grapevine. Parisoners at the church helped to put the display together, bringing back crosses from their international trips.

A brochure identifying and describing the various crosses is available at the church. The display is in a public area in the foyer just inside the church’s north entrance.

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