Brandon cross controversy - - The News for South Mississippi

Group hopes to construct 11-story cross in Brandon

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If it is constructed, church officials say it would be seen by thousands of people everyday. If it is constructed, church officials say it would be seen by thousands of people everyday.
BRANDON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A cross that would stand 110 feet tall, equivalent to an 11-story building, could be placed just off Interstate 20 in Brandon at the First Baptist Church. That is, if church members have it their way.

The non-profit group Crosses Across America is known for placing these crosses off highways and roads nationwide. The organization has picked property at the First Baptist Church for the steel monument. If it is constructed, church officials say it would be seen by thousands of people every day.

"The Cross and Brandon is a symbol, a monument that has inspired people for generations," says First Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Scott Thomas.

The 18-ton steel cross would tower over I-20. Thomas says he and his congregation would be thrilled to be the home of what would be the largest cross in Mississippi.

"We believe it will be an encouragement for not only the 50 million people that pass by us, but it will also be an inspiration and encouragement for people that fly over us from Jackson International Airport," Dr. Thomas said.

The cross would be in the flight zone, but the Federal Aviation Administration along with the Mississippi Department of Transportation have given approval.

However, the Brandon Planning Commission says it's too high and denied the request.

"There's an ordinance they have on structures that they can't be more than 20 feet," said church member Mike May.

The church and Crosses Across America are still pushing for the cross to be constructed at this prime location.

"92,000 cars pass by there daily," said May. "If you compute that out and use MDOT numbers of 1.5 people per car, that's almost 50 million people annually that go by there. And this will be the largest and the only one of its kind in Mississippi. So really, Brandon is lucky to have been chosen for the cross to be located there."

"Our city recently voted in liquor," said Thomas. "And I'm expecting and believing that our city officials are going to vote in the cross at Brandon."

The Planning Commission considered a variance that will now go to the Brandon Board of Aldermen for a vote.

A public hearing will be held Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. at Brandon City Hall. If the board approves the project, it will cost $80,000 to $100,000 to construct. Crosses Across America will raise the money for the project.

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