Westchester church rededicates cross moved off public land
The Rev. David L. Prentice Jr., pastor of Faith Lutheran, blesses the cross as about 25 members gather around. Faith Lutheran Church held a dedication service Sunday celebrating its new location on the front lawn. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:16PM
WESTCHESTER — The cross that stood on the median in front of Faith Lutheran Church in Westchester for at least 35 years was removed last Sept. 11 for reasons of separation of church and state. This September it was replanted, on church grounds.
Well-known atheist Rob Sherman asked the Westchester Village Board to review the constitutionality of the placement of the cross after a resident wrote to him, and officials in turn suggested to Faith Lutheran Church the cross was inappropriate in the public way.
“The village did the right thing once I put heat on them to intervene; they should have done something within the past 50 years,” Sherman said.
Village President Sam Pulia was not too happy with Sherman’s visit to the village, however. Pulia, who was raised Catholic, said he was taught to respect all religions and their beliefs and believes Sherman should have minded his own business and worried about his community.
“I know I’m glad its back as it represents faith, hope, and belief that there is a better place waiting for all of us without war, pain, sorrow, disappointment and struggle,” Pulia said.
The cross now sits facing Westchester Boulevard, about 100 feet from where it was originally. A dinner, a community picnic and a dedication was held to celebrate its comeback, which includes a light shining on it.
Faith Lutheran Church member Dianna Bonfield said the cross had been there for the community through good days and bad. She said when the cross was taken down, people were asking why.
“People said they saw the cross when driving to work or going grocery shopping, and it reminded them that Christ was there, and it gave them hope,” Bonfield said.
The Rev. David Prentice, Jr., pastor of Faith Lutheran, believes the cross is part of the village and driving by it was like driving by an American flag.
Despite Sherman’s threat of legal action and the eventual removal of the cross from the public right of way, Prentice, Jr. invited him out to the church dinner Sept. 13. Sherman said he would come and kept his promise.
“It [the dinner] went very well; everyone was courteous. I was a little surprised; we all got along very well, once they understood why I was involved they were very nice. They treated me well and I treated them well,” Sherman said.
Faith Lutheran Church member Bess Peterson said that Sherman was very nice at the dinner and even gave $20 to the church.