Foundation timbers from the historic Jonesville Academy chapel salvaged by church members serve to greet members and visitors as a “symbol of hope” in the reception area of the Jonesville United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Judith B. Davis, minister at the church, said the late parents of church members, John Wesley Mathis, known as Coach in the community, and Charles, salvaged the old pine timbers in hopes one day they could be used.
“I think of their act of preserving something for their generation a symbol of hope,” said Davis.
Church members did just that and presented a cross as a gift for the church’s homecoming.
They took timbers to a car wash and washed off lots of dirt daubers, said member Judy Wolfe. Tom and Janie Westra, Charles Mathis and Wolfe got it assembled in time for the church homecoming celebrated in 2013.
The cross was mounted in the church’s reception area after members renovated the area to make a place for it. Since then it has been a symbol that honors the past while celebrating the future, said Davis.
The cross still smells of fresh pine resin and has the original old peg holes in its foundations. The cord that binds the two timbers is the one that was used to pull the original church bell that still tolls above the church.
The peg holes indicate the decades of life, learning, teaching and preaching and the wood is around 300 years old, said a church bulletin.
Part of an inscription mounted by the cross by Davis, who was appointed to the church July 1, reads, “This Cross and Flame remind as, as United Methodist, who we are and ‘Whose’ we are. The cross speaks to our connection to God through Christ, the flame speaks of the Holy Spirit working through us. The flame points to the birth of the church at Pentecost (Acts 2:3) when witnesses were unified by the Holy Spirit’s power, appearing to them as ‘tongues of fire.’”
Davis also indicated how the flame is a reminder of the transforming moment in the life of Methodism’s founder John Wesley, when in God’s presence he felt his heart “strangely warmed.”
“It represents God moving us into the future, with hope,” she reflected.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.