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New cross and flame light way for Methodists

Church stands symbol 50 feet up

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

Leaders of St. Paul United Methodist Church on Washington Street revealed the church’s newest addition Sunday morning — a 16-foot-tall cross and flame insignia.

The 100-pound cross and flame rests against the brick wall of the bell tower facing Washington Street, and stands about 50 feet off the ground. Nearly 75 members gathered in the parking lot between the church’s two Sunday morning worship services for a dedication ceremony for the new cross.

Over a period of four months, church members raised $10,000 to contract local metal workers to construct the cross. And on Wednesday, the cross was finally installed on the bell tower wall of the church’s three-year-old sanctuary addition.

"I think it looks really good," said John Brady, shop foreman for the Gainesville company Wallace Sheet Metal Works, which built and installed the cross and flame. "We’re real proud of how it turned out."

Becky Bocian, wife of St. Paul’s Rev. Jim Bocian, said the cross and flame has been the symbol of the United Methodist Church for roughly 40 years.

"It’s a reminder of Jesus’ gift of his life on the cross and the coming of the Holy Spirit in the flame, and that is very important to us as United Methodists," Bocian said.

Bocian added that it was Pat and Frances Patterson who helped to spearhead the fundraising campaign for the insignia.

"It was a dream of ours," Frances Patterson said.

"Being a downtown church, hundreds of people go by that church every day and night," Pat Patterson said. "And we just felt it would be a good opportunity to make a statement about who we are ... and who we follow. We are followers of Jesus Christ."

Pat Patterson said that since the latest addition to the building, which houses the new sanctuary, Sunday school classrooms, conference rooms and an elevator, was finished three years ago, the belltower wall adjacent to the sanctuary had no cross on it. When he consulted the congregation about donating funds to make the church’s symbol a part of the downtown Gainesville landscape, donations poured in.

"The response was just overwhelming. The congregation responded tremendously," Pat Patterson said. And four months later, Pat Patterson saw his dream come true, just in time for his 80th birthday today

"We’re trying to share the cross with Gainesville," Pat Patterson said. "We are trying to let the public know what kind of church we are, and hopefully somebody will come in and join the fellowship with us."


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