Posted in cull, east greenwich ri, end time, prophecy, wayside cross

The Wayside Cross of East Greenwich RI

East Greenwich, Rhode Island is an old New England town, founded in 1677. Many of the original colonial homes are still standing and inhabited, and the town is quaint beyond belief. It is also my home town.

I grew up near the corner of four streets intersecting, where a charming cemetery is located on one corner. A brook runs through the cemetery, and a beautiful stone bridge serves as the entry to it. I used to play there frequently, as the property abutted our home and the hills are perfect for bike-riding, the brook contained tadpoles, and the leafy quietude was a huge draw for this shy child.

In the middle of the crossroads of this intersection was a Wayside Cross. It stood on a triangular island and the redwood crucifix with little roof had nailed to it a little plaque. The cross was put up in 1922, and its construction was noted in the St. Andrews Cross newsletter of October 1922; They wrote:

“THE first wayside cross to be erected in Rhode Island, if not in New England, was recently set up on a triangular piece of ground in East Greenwich. This cross is in memory of Dr. James H. Eldredge, a life-long resident of East Greenwich and at one time president of the Town Council. It is the gift of his granddaughters, one of whom is Mrs. Henry M. Saville, wife of the Rev. H. M. Saville, rector of St. Mary’s Church, East Providence. The cross was formally presented to the town by the Rev. Mr. Saville, and Bishop Perry conducted a simple ceremony of dedication in the presence of about one hundred people, including twenty-five school children of the nearby district school, who are pledged to watch the cross and see that no harm comes to it. Members of St. Luke’s choir led in the singing of several hymns, the Rev. J. M. Hunter leading in the Lord’s Prayer. The cross was accepted by the president of the Town Council. The inscription on the cross reads: ‘In Memory of James Henry Eldredge, Physician, Lover of God and Man, Who for fifty years traveled these roads to visit the sick and suffering. Died February 20, 1891.’ Since its erection, hundreds passing have stopped to observe the cross and to read the inscription, and those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven.” (photo from 1922 newsletter)”

St. Mary’s in our town is the Catholic Church. Though these stations by the road are called ‘Wayside Cross’ they are actually a crucifix. A hanging Jesus is attached to the crossbars.

One of the local elementary schools is named after Dr. Eldredge, I attended as a child.  You can see by the fact that the cross was erected and the lengthy newsletter article, in those days (1922- a hundred years ago!), a Wayside Cross was something to be proud of (even if it was a crucifix). Ceremonies were held when they were erected, and volunteers lovingly and diligently maintained them.

That was then.

Growing up, before I left the town in 1978 for college, my atheist father used to complain about that cross. It had been erected in the middle of the intersection. I suppose it could be seen as a road hazard to drivers. But that was not why my father hated it.

He hated driving past it. He railed and groused and gritted his teeth. More than once I heard him mention it, and not in glowing terms either. He used to say it had no place on town property. Well, someone else felt that way too, because during the week of November 28, 1986, Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU, wrote to Town Manager Robert T. Tempest that the ACLU had received a complaint about the Wayside Cross, which sits on public land on the island at the intersection. Brown asked the town to move the crucifix to private land on behalf of Peter A. Marks of Middle Rd., who had lived in the town for just about a year. Thus began a fight that lasted two years, made national headlines, and caused a good young man to be arrested.

New resident Marks wanted the cross to come down. “I find it offensive” Marks said. He avoided driving past it because of his conviction that it made non-Christians feel unwelcome. This is 1986 now. He didn’t know, as many still do not, that the crucifix isn’t a Christian symbol. It’s an idol which means nothing. But anyway,

Very public legal wrangling ensued. This wrangling so upset teenager Laurence Moulton, that he sawed the cross off at the base and hid it, hoping to defuse the controversy. The climate between the religious and the ACLU in RI was already heightened by an enormous then-recent lawsuit (1984) when in a very famous case, the ACLU sued the city of Pawtucket for having a Christmas creche. The case challenging the legality of holiday decorations on town property made it to the Supreme Court of the United States. (Lawsuit here)

The ACLU lost the Christmas Creche suit but undaunted, again picked up the banner of separation of church and state a year later with the East Greenwich Wayside Cross issue. The controversy immediately re-ignited, having not yet died down from the Supreme Court creche suit. This bickering bothered young Mr. Moulton tremendously, and in his teenager-addled brain, he thought if he sawed off the cross that would settle the issue. He was eventually sentenced to one year probation.

Why am I writing all this? I’m old and nostalgic. I was googling around google street view to look at photos of my old town. I spent a long time doing this. It is a beautiful town and not much has changed. I started thinking of that cross, nearly across from my driveway, and how it was a historic landmark for me and an emotional one too. As a kid, when I saw it I knew I was almost to my house.

My childhood was atheist dominated with overtones of apathy and occasional spurts of Unitarianism. I really had no religious upbringing and that state of affairs continued into college and young adulthood. I lived in RI for 17 years, and then Maine for 30 years, both states in the bottom ten for citizens NOT going to church. In Maine, only 27% of adults attend church weekly or nearly weekly, a dismal statistic surpassed only by two other states, both neighbors of Maine: NH and VT. For 44 years I lived in an environmental desert of atheism and agnosticism and indifference. How, may I just please ask HOW, does an adult in middle age suddenly claim Jesus as savior?

His grace, that’s how. He sent the Holy Spirit to convict me, and my unhardened heart allowed the conviction. Increasingly for the Christian, there is no remedy for our offense. The true cross is deemed frivolous and no-account, dead wrong, “offensive” and we are marginalized for wanting to retain the right to display our faith in public.

These arguments about separation of church and state hurt us: just ask young Mr Moulton who was tormented by adult wrangling over-the-top over-reaching on the part of those who want to wipe the entire nation and earth of any Christian display. In 1922 the Wayside Crucifix was a place where it was hoped that many would be comforted, its construction a moment of celebration. In 1988 it was a point of state-wide controversy and bitter anger. In 2022 is the wayside station at the junction of 4 roads even remembered? It has by now been moved to the nearby cemetery, a fitting place for it. Such is our prophesied trajectory away from Our Lord.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The cross was eventually moved from the middle of the intersection to just inside the cemetery. it’s a more appropriate place safety-wise and location wise.
Posted in end time, prophecy, wayside cross

The cross in public life

The Wayside Cross is a huge tradition in Canada and Europe, where it has abounded for over a thousand years. “In Quebec, and Europe, a wayside cross marks a place where the members of a community gather to meet and pray, and often commemorates an important moment in their communal history.” Charles Bourget reports that there are 3000 wayside shrines dotting the countryside in Quebec, however, many of them are falling into disrepair because the tradition is waning. I wrote yesterday about the fate of one American Wayside Cross in East Greenwich RI.

Below, a wayside cross in Europe
In America, the tradition never really caught on. They are seen occasionally, especially in central rural Wisconsin. Wayside crosses dot the landscape there. In Bedford NY, one was erected in 1936 and it was hoped that the sight of it would invite the prayers of the passersby. In 1922 East Greenwich, it was hoped by “those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven.” By and large wayside crosses are not seen much and those that do exist are under increasing challenge.

The point of the cross in public life is that it would point the way to Jesus. That upon seeing it, thoughts of Him and the Good News would ruminate in the mind, and through the strength of the Holy Spirit, those thoughts would germinate. For people seeing such displays, who have already heard the Good News, perhaps its sight would loosen the bonds around the heartstrings and their conviction would grow, as in the allegorical depiction of Christian at the Wayside Cross.

A wayside cross was a pivotal point in the very famous book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, published in 1678 and has remained on the ‘bestseller list’ ever since, never having been out of print. The passage is below:

“He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, ‘He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.’ Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with Peace be unto thee. So the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven thee;”

It is amazing that the sight of the cross should ease a person’s burdens, but it does, for the person who is ready to receive grace. For every individual on the planet, there comes that critical moment, upon which the eye falls to the cross and a decision is made either aye or nay. The cross to the unsaved does make one’s soul burn, satan would have it so. But in the process of that the soul-singe the cross is emblazoned on the mind and heart and soul, thereafter to linger as a brand. It stays there, to rankle. Opponents of Christ do not want that rankle, and therefore strive to remove the cross from all areas of life except homes and churches. The right to display the cross in public life is waning. One cannot even wear a cross around one’s neck in Britain, anymore.

British Airways check-in worker Nadia Eweida has lost her appeal against a previous court ruling upholding the airline’s decision to ban her from wearing a cross necklace with her uniform at work. Ms Eweida was dismissed without pay in 2006 when she refused to cover up her cross necklace behind her neck scarf. She argued before the Employment Tribunal in 2008 that she should be allowed to wear her necklace because Muslim and Hindu employees were permitted to wear headscarves and turbans but the Tribunal ruled in favour of BA. Lord Justice Sedley upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s November 2008 ruling determining that the airline’s ban did not constitute religious discrimination.

Christian nurse removed from frontline duty for wearing cross necklace
A Christian nurse was taken off frontline duties after she refused to take off a necklace bearing a cross. Shirley Chaplin said she believed The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital was trying to prevent her from expressing religious beliefs. But the trust said the policy had nothing to do with the crucifix specifically, and was motivated by health and safety concerns about patients grabbing necklaces. Mrs Chaplin, 54, from Exeter, said: ‘For about 30 years I have worked in the NHS and nursed patients day and night and on no occasion has my cross caused me or anyone else any injury – and to my knowledge, no patient has ever complained about me wearing it. The Trust said necklaces of all kinds were banned but admitted there may have been ‘lapses’.

That’s Europe, you say. It could not happen in America. Sure it can. This month in Missouri, FedEx suspended a worker on grounds that her cross violated a dress code against wearing of personal insignias.

The public crosses I saw during the course of my life affected me and were sure steppingstones on my path to the Lord. I mentioned the initial event that started me thinking about the public life of the cross in yesterday’s post, the RI Wayside Cross that stood at the intersection of my street. I saw that cross a lot growing up. Each time I did, I exhibited varying amounts of offense at varying times until I moved far away to a godless state and never no more was troubled by public displays of the cross.

The public crosses that stand alongside roads, hang round our necks as jewelry, appear on cars and trucks and shipgoing vessels, all penetrate the web of dark sin in which the the unsaved labor. If we see through a glass darkly, they see not at all, and the cross is the only light that can and will penetrate that darkness.

Brother and Sister, if you own a cross as a tie clip or jewelry, wear it. If you should be of a mind, erect one at the edge of your lawn. Do not let the Christian cross become a fading symbol here in the United States. “There was a time in Pakistan when it was common to see cross pendants around the necks of people on the streets. But now, that sight has been reduced to a rare glimpse in Karachi’s Bohri Bazaar, only when Christmas is around the corner. The decreasing visibility of the cross here underscores the challenges the Christian community is facing.”

The visibility of the cross is decreasing in America too. Don’t let it. The cross was a public declaration that God’s righteousness was satisfied. (Romans 3:24-25; Hebrews 9:15). We should be no less public. In doing so, He is lifted up.

Posted in cull, east greenwich ri, end time, prophecy, wayside cross

The Wayside Cross of East Greenwich RI

East Greenwich, Rhode Island is an old New England town, founded in 1677. Many of the original colonial homes are still standing and inhabited, and the town is quaint beyond belief. It is also my home town.

I grew up near the corner of four streets intersecting, where a charming cemetery is located on one corner. A brook runs through the cemetery, and a beautiful stone bridge serves as the entry to it. I used to play there frequently, as the property abutted our home and the hills are perfect for bike-riding, the brook contained tadpoles, and the leafy quietude were a huge draw for this shy child.

In the middle of the crossroads of this intersection was a Wayside Cross. It stood on a triangular island and the redwood crucifix with little roof had nailed to it a little plaque. The cross was put up in 1922, and its construction was noted in the St. Andrews Cross newsletter of October 1922; They wrote:

“THE first wayside cross to be erected in Rhode Island, if not in New England, was recently set up on a triangular piece of ground in East Greenwich. This cross is in memory of Dr. James H. Eldredge, a life-long resident of East Greenwich and at one time president of the Town Council. It is the gift of his granddaughters, one of whom is Mrs. Henry M. Saville, wife of the Rev. H. M. Saville, rector of St. Mary’s Church, East Providence. The cross was formally presented to the town by the Rev. Mr. Saville, and Bishop Perry conducted a simple ceremony of dedication in the presence of about one hundred people, including twenty-five school children of the nearby district school, who are pledged to watch the cross and see that no harm comes to it. Members of St. Luke’s choir led in the singing of several hymns, the Rev. J. M. Hunter leading in the Lord’s Prayer. The cross was accepted by the president of the Town Council. The inscription on the cross reads: ‘In Memory of James Henry Eldredge, Physician, Lover of God and Man, Who for fifty years traveled these roads to visit the sick and suffering. Died February 20, 1891.’ Since its erection, hundreds passing have stopped to observe the cross and to read the inscription, and those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven.” (photo from 1922 newsletter)

What a charming notation! But just who was this Dr. Eldredge?

Doctor Eldredge was one of the original members of the Rhode Island Medical Society, always took a deep interest in its welfare and was its president from 1834 to 1837. He was an honorary member of the Connecticut Medical Society, and in 1835 received the degree of M. D. from Yale College. He died on the 15th of September, 1888, when he had but just completed his fifty-fourth year, and is buried in St. Luke’s Cemetery, to which place his remains were removed after being first interred in the burying ground on the old Baptist Meeting House hill. Doctor Eldredge was chosen vice-president of the Rhode Island Medical Society in 1856, and held that office for two years. In 1858 he was made president, and held that office for two years, and during those years was ex officio trustee of the Fiske fund. Since this time he has been a member of the board of censors of the above named society. Doctor Eldredge has been a member of the school committee of his town for more than forty years, for twenty years as clerk, and for about the same time chairman of the board. In the spring of 1886 he was elected a member of the town council, and in 1887-8 he represented his town in the general assembly as senator.” He was also founder of the Town Library and served as Town Librarian for a year.

He served for over half a century in his profession in East Greenwich, without losing a day from sickness until the end when he himself became ill, and only on the rarest occasions was absent from his post of duty. He once delivered three babies in one day, and at another time, Dr. Eldredge crossed the dangerously frozen Narragansett Bay to aid a patient on Prudence Island.

One of the local elementary schools is named after him, I attended as a child.  I can think of no more diligent of a man in service to his profession nor his town in the way that Dr. Eldredge did. It was right and good that the donation was made to honor him as a good man of by the erection of a Wayside Cross. In 1922, a Wayside Cross was something to be proud of. Ceremonies were held when they were erected, and volunteers lovingly and diligently maintained them.

That was then.

Growing up, before I left the town in 1978 for college, my atheist father used to complain about that cross. He hated driving past it. He railed and groused and gritted his teeth. More than once I heard him mention it, and not in glowing terms either. He used to say it had no place on town property. Well, someone else felt that way too, because during the week of November 28, 1986, Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU, wrote to Town Manager Robert T. Tempest that the ACLU had received a complaint about the Wayside Cross, which sits on public land on the island at Middle and Cedar. Brown asked the town to move the crucifix to private land on behalf of Peter A. Marks of Middle Rd., who had lived in the town for just about a year. Thus began a fight that lasted two years, made national headlines, and caused a good young man to be arrested.

Marks wanted the cross to come down. “I find it offensive” Marks said. He avoided driving past it because of his conviction that it made non-Christians feel unwelcome. Very public legal wrangling ensued. This wrangling so upset teenager Laurence Moulton, that he sawed the cross off at the base and hid it, hoping to defuse the controversy. The climate between the religious and the ACLU in RI was already heightened by an enormous recent lawsuit when in a very famous case, the ACLU sued the city of Pawtucket for having a Christmas creche. The case challenging the legality of holiday decorations on town property made it to the Supreme Court of the United States. The ACLU lost that suit but undaunted, again picked up the banner of separation of church and state a year later with the East Greenwich Wayside Cross issue. The controversy immediately re-ignited, having not yet died down from the Supreme Court creche suit. This bickering bothered young Mr. Moulton tremendously, and in his teenager-addled brain, he thought if he sawed off the cross that would settle the issue. He was eventually sentenced to one year probation.

Why am I writing all this? I’m old and nostalgic. I was googling around google street view to look at photos of my old town. I spent a long time doing this. It is a beautiful town and not much has changed. I started thinking of that cross, nearly across from my driveway, and how it was a historic landmark for me and an emotional one too. As a kid, when I saw it I knew I was almost home.

My childhood was atheist dominated with overtones of apathy and occasional spurts of Unitarianism. I really had no religious upbringing and that state of affairs continued into college and young adulthood. I lived in RI for 17 years, and then Maine for 30 years, both states in the bottom ten for citizens NOT going to church. In Maine, only 27% of adults attend church weekly or nearly weekly, a dismal statistic surpassed only by two other states, both neighbors of Maine: NH and VT. For 44 years I lived in an environmental desert of atheism and agnosticism and indifference. How, may I just please ask HOW, does an adult in middle age suddenly claim Jesus as savior?

His grace, that’s how. He sent the Holy Spirit to convict me, and my unhardened heart allowed the conviction. Now I mourn for that just-remembered cross (actually a crucifix) and I’m offended that a person could and would go to such lengths to remove a blessed wayside station of comfort, a place of historical value, a spot loved by a whole town. But increasingly for the Christian, there is no remedy for our offense. It is deemed frivolous and no-account, dead wrong, and we are marginalized for wanting to retain the right to display our faith in public.

These arguments about separation of church and state hurt us: just ask young Mr Moulton who was tormented by adult wrangling over-the-top over-reaching on the part of those who want to wipe the entire nation and earth of any Christian display. In 1922 the Wayside Crucifix was a place where it was hoped that many would be comforted, its construction a moment of celebration. In 1988 it was a point of state-wide controversy and bitter anger. In 2010 is the noble wayside station at the junction of Cedar Ave and Kenyon and Middle Roads even remembered? Such is our prophesied trajectory away from Our Lord.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)

Part two tomorrow