Vicar takes down ‘scary’ crucifix

08 January 2009

by Ed Beavan

THE Revd Dr Ewen Souter, Team Vicar of St John’s, Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham in West Sussex, has defended a decision to remove a crucifix from the outside of the church. Critics of its removal say that the effect is to play down the signifi­cance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The ten-foot crucifix was the work of the artist Edward Bainbridge Copnall, who offered it to St John’s after it was built in 1963. But parents had commented that children had been scared by the crucifix’s distinc­tive image.

The main motivation behind removing it, Dr Souter said, was to replace it with “a symbol of hope rather than hopelessness”.

“It’s made national news because it seems like the church is down­playing the cross and the cruci­fixion,” Mr Souter said. “This is not the case. We are an Evangelical church, but felt the crucifix ex­pressed despair and hopelessness and was not faithful to the biblical reality and doctrine of the Bible, which is that the cross is a place of great hope.

“We hope the new cross will communicate just how stongly we take the message of the cross, and will create a sense of radiating light and hope.”

Dr Souter added that the decision to remove the crucifix had “not been taken lightly”, and had gone through all the official channels, including the diocesan advisory committee.

The church has raised £12,000 for a new, empty cross of contemporary design by the Essex artist Angela Godfrey to replace the crucifix, which will now be displayed in Horsham Museum.

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