Crosses in the Chancel

52 Crosses at Byron United Church

For Christians around the world, the cross (La Croix, Das Kreuz, La Cruz) has been the primary symbol of Jesus Christ and Christianity for almost 2000 years. The wooden cross is a symbol of Jesus’ death and resurrection and a symbol of hope.

At Byron United Church (Boler Rd & Byron Baseline), there are over 50 crosses in the sanctuary made from woods from around the world, representing the millions of Christians through the ages who have been killed for their faith and witness.

These crosses, large and small, were created and presented to the congregation by longtime member Murray Dale last Easter.  Murray is an avid collector of rare woods and his woodworking hobby has spanned 70 years. In addition to the crosses, he has made candle holders, Advent and Peace candle pedestals, as well as the pulpit used at Byron United Church. His other projects include toys for the Children’s Hospital, walnut face clocks and close to 30 gavels for various organizations, all made from different woods.

The largest cross above the chancel is 6 feet tall, made of Red Oak, exemplifying strength and beauty. Jesus’ cross could have been oak as it was preferred by the Romans for crucifixions due to its size and strength. The inlaid, 3-foot cross is composed of Kauri wood from New Zealand. This unique piece of wood is from a tree that lived 40,000 years by continuing to grow after it was buried underground by a glacier during an ice age.    

 A smaller cross hanging on the balcony face is made from Olive wood from Bethlehem which represents continuous life since it prepares new shoots through its roots prior to the death of the original tree.                  

Forty-nine smaller 5” crosses are placed at the ends of the pews and represent the woods from 35 different countries around the world. These wooden crosses encircle the congregation on the outsides of each row of pews. From the Yellow Cedar of Alaska, through the Yellow Parrot from Peru in the Americas to Zebrawood from Africa, Limoncello found in Italy and the Loretta Cherry from China, each is unique in its colour and grain. All told there are 52 different kinds of wood represented. Many of these woods have connections to Byron United mission trips to different countries.

These crosses remind us of our being rooted in Christ Jesus, a carpenter himself who worked with wood which provides humanity with life: oxygen, shelter, fuel, food and can be crafted in many beautiful and functional ways.