No 110-foot cross for Brandon - - The News for South Mississippi

No 110-foot cross for Brandon

BRANDON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Plans to build a 110 foot tall cross near First Baptist Church in Brandon is now off the table.

Pastor Scott Thomas says he made the decision Sunday afternoon. The deacons of the church endorsed that decision and took it to the church this evening.

You may recall, the non-profit group crosses across America first pitched the idea to place the 11 story tall cross just off Interstate-20 on the church's property.

A zoning variance would be needed to construct the cross because of city regulations. In fact, a public hearing was scheduled for September 16th on the issue.

Now, Thomas says the church will withdraw its request. He says the issue has become too divisive and the church is there to be a unifying-uplifting part of the community.

The pastor says the cross would be an incredible ministry but now is not the time. 

"Our goal is to work with the city. We certainly felt and understood the hesitation from the city. We realize that ordinances and their kind of frustration with having to vote on a variance," said Thomas.

He says the church can find other avenues to minister to the community with the help of city leaders. 
The people that talked with WLBT on camera Monday were in favor of building the Christian symbol. 

"I feel like the cross should be built because I am a believer in Jesus Christ and his cross was heavy," said Linda Dixon. 

"I think it would've been a great image for Brandon. We've been a family oriented, large community type town, and in these time I think we could all be reminded," said Carolyn Waldrop.

The decision not to build was also posted on Facebook. Many folks posted their displeasure on the Cross at Brandon Facebook page.  
Some believe the church caved to local political pressure.

"I think the political leadership in Brandon needs to take a reality pill and understand where they are living," said Jim Kolson.

"(I'm) Shocked and disappointed. I was ready to go to the board meeting and stand up because I believe in the cross. I believe what it symbolizes. I just hate to be suppressed by quote "government," said resident Monica Baldwin.

Thomas said no said Brandon city leader pressured him into the decision. There have been ugly emails and letters sent because of the proposal. 

The pastor isn't surprised about the national attention or the reaction the plans evoked.

"Those that have received Christ as their savior are passionate for the cross. Those who have rejected Christ are... Many of them are as passionate against the cross," said Thomas. 

"We love our city. We love our representatives, our aldermen and mayor, and we don't need to cause them to vote yea or nay. We're not trying to fight against them. We're trying to fight for them," added Thomas.

The pastor says the church never intended to go to court over the issue. 

If alderman had rejected the variance, which WLBT has been told there were enough votes to do, the only way the church could build the cross would be to go to court.

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