Port Charlotte United Methodist Church Timeline


History of the Cross in the Sanctuary

Chaplin Eli Richards using his axe to shape and carve the cross.

While the sanctuary was being built in 1962, Chaplain Eli D. Richards, Associate Pastor of the Port Charlotte Methodist Church, decided to make a replica of the “Old Rugged Cross” to hang in the sanctuary on the west wall, behind the pulpit.
There were no trees on the church grounds considered suitable. Chaplin Richards got permission from General Development to go into the woods and cut down a southern pine tree near Orlando Blvd. and Hillsboro Blvd. in Port Charlotte.
The tree had died in the stub, was well weathered and worm eaten, which was exactly what Eli was looking for. He and his neighbor, Leslie Harkness, cut it and hauled it to Richard’s back yard where he, with the help of many loving hands, hand-carved the wooden cross, peeled the bark, removed the sap wood, wire brushed it and treated it with mineral oil. He then fashioned it into two lengths, twelve feet and eight feet. The shorter one would be the cross bar.
In the center of the cross bar he carved the initials INRI, the same letters Pontius Pilate had placed above the cross meaning. “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” On one end he carved the Greek symbol Alpha and on the other, the Greek symbol for Omega.

It was hung into place with an electric hoist by the men of Mayes Construction Company using three-colored chains —bronze for judgement, silver for redemption and red for the blood of forgiveness. It weighed about two-hundred
and fifty pounds. The making of the cross required a lot of labor, but Chaplin Eli said, “it was a Labor of Love.”
The Cross hangs, not as an image to worship, but as a reminder that Christ once was crucified and died on it for our sake.

by Dr. Pierre J. Fisher