MIFFLINTOWN - Small white crosses are popping up on lawns around Juniata County.
All because of an atheist in Michigan.
The Cross the Country movement has come to Mifflintown through the River Church of Juniata County.
Sentinel graphic by BUFFIE BOYER
and JENNIFER KNEPP
William Kern, a member, discovered the Cross the Country movement while at a garage in Mill Hall, Clinton County. He said he noticed a stack of crosses in the store area and asked what was up with the crosses.
The owner told him the Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church was giving them out for free. He also mentioned the story of the "Cross the Country" campaign was on the fliers on the counter.
The original project initiated because of an atheist's efforts to remove displays of religion on public property.
In 2008, an atheist in Frankenmuth, Mich., complained to the town council about two crosses displayed on a bridge. Fearing legal pressure, the town removed the crosses. Next the atheist complained to the council about the Lutheran symbol on the city shield, placed there to honor its founders.
The other residents of the town decided they had had enough. Hundreds of town residents made their opinion known by placing small crosses in their front yards.
With that show of community unity, the atheist dropped his complaint. The crosses still stand in the town for all to see. They believed it was time for the Christians to stand and be counted. It made a difference.
The cross project picked up steam around the country through emails, and became known as Cross the Country.
Kern said he felt God was telling him to continue the movement in Juniata County. He present the idea to his Life Group leaders Ron and Sue Rickenbaugh, and the group decided to take on the project and build the crosses for the congregation.
Dane Walters from River Church said they built and painted more than 150 2-foot-tall wooden crosses to place in front yards everywhere, according to a press release from the church.
The campaign began on Palm Sunday when the crosses were given away at the end of the morning service at the Central Juniata Emergency Building, Mifflintown.
"We're Christians, and we want people to know it," Walters said.
River Church hopes other churches, organizations and individuals in the area will join the campaign of displaying the Christian faith, according to the press release. They want to let the government, groups or individuals who are anti-religion to know they are surrounded by Christians who are no longer afraid to stand up and be counted, the release states.
Patterns for the crosses are available for anyone who is interested in spreading the cross display. Each cross ends in a point so it can be placed in a lawn or a plant pot. Each cross also comes with a business-sized card explaining a little about the campaign.
Some River Church members are sending crosses to friends and family in other states so the idea can truly be a "Cross the Country" campaign.
Anyone interested in receiving and displaying a cross may call the River Church office at 436-8507, Kern at 436-6818 or Ron Rickenbaugh at 436-6539.