MASON COUNTY, W.Va. — Sometimes the old rugged cross, gets, well, rugged, and in need of repair.
A recent joint effort between volunteers from the Bellemead UM Church and Beech Hill UM Church looked to resurrect roadside crosses in need of repair and attention across Mason County.
The Roadside Cross Ministry began in 1984 when West Virginia native the late Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer erected the first trio of gold and blue Crosses in Flatwoods, W.Va., about 65 miles north of Charleston. The former businessman-turned-evangelist was said to be called by the Lord on a trip to Israel to build the crosses.
He liquidated his business and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Coffindaffer spent nearly $3 million (equivalent to $7 million today) his entire fortune planting crosses in 29 states, the District of Columbia, Zambia and the Philippines until his death in 1993.
Some of the trios of crosses in Mason County had fallen into a state of disrepair. At the suggestion of Pastor Jack Mayes, Beech Hill UMC took on the task of organizing the much needed repairs and later partnered with Bellmead UMC to complete the mission.
One set of crosses is located at the Junior Smith residence on the Ashton Upland Road past Hannan High School. According to volunteer Rodney Wallbrown, nothing was done to this set because they have been kept in perfect care and repair. Wallbrown said another set is along W.Va. 2 near the locks and dam; one set is on the road just out of Henderson, W.Va. on Redmond Ridge; one set is on U.S. 35 after crossing into Putnam County, W.Va.; another set is just past Flatrock, W.Va. across from Long Hollow Road.
Wallbrown said the repairs consisted of straightening up leaning crosses, tamping dirt around bases to keep them plumb, brushing and scraping the wood to remove peeled paint when necessary and repainting each cross. Paint was provided by Jack Lee, owner of Paint Plus and by Ozzie Finley.
Lacey Parsons and his son Zack provided labor and a tractor to do the straightening to the crosses along W.Va. 2, Eddie Morgan and Billy VanFranken helped with the work of straightening the crosses along U.S. 35.
Wallbrown was the group leader and director of the work groups. Those involved in this rewarding work were Roger and Addie Hopson, Ozzie and Harriette Finley, Pastor Chip Bennett, Junior Smith, Lacey Parsons, Zack Parsons, and Jack Lee.
Volunteers called it “rewarding work.”
The crosses are said to remind people that Jesus was crucified on a cross for the sins of others, as well as the hope of the resurrection and that He is coming back.