Dear St. Paul’s family,
If you are reading this in church, look up and take a good look at the cross hanging in the chancel over the altar. It’s a wood sculpture of a traditional image of the risen Christ, known as the Christus Victor or Christus Rex, with a king’s crown and priestly garments. There’s a story behind how this sculpture came to be at St. Paul’s.
Many years ago, when the Very Rev. James Carroll was the rector of St. Paul’s, a local sculptor made a cross for the chancel of St. Paul’s. It was placed in the chancel for the congregation to review and was not well received. Jim persevered and kept it in place for two years to see if people would get used to it. They did not. He then did an exchange with Episcopal Community Services, who at the time had a downtown chapel. They got the new cross and St. Paul’s got the one we have now. 

Update:  thanks to Paula Peeling for finding a 
photo, c. 1986, of the old cross designed 
by Ralph Carskadden (sp?) design. 
He was former rector of All Souls.


Over the years there has been a persistent complaint that the chancel cross doesn’t “fit” the space. It is too small for the scale of the space, and it doesn’t stand out from the background of the organ enclosure.
Now a generous parishioner has offered to underwrite the cost of a new chancel cross. A group of parishioners has been researching local artists and they have come up with several possible options. The  consensus so far is that we want an image of the risen and living Christ, with a welcoming aspect and timeless garb. We have not yet decided whether the Christ image should be actually on a cross or not. We believe that it should be life-size, about 6 feet tall (including the cross, if any), and that it should be made of natural wood, not painted, but of a shade that makes it stand out from the background.

Starting a week or so from now, you should have an opportunity to view small models (“marquettes”) of several possible designs. I hope you will study them and offer feedback. The details, such as the face and hands, won’t be finished, but you should get a good sense of the overall design. Once we know which one is most favored by the congregation the artist will create a full-size cardboard mockup which we will suspend over the altar.
I am deeply grateful for the generosity of parishioners who make possible such enhancements to our worship space.
Your sister in Christ,

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6 thoughts on “Dean Letter: Chancel Cross”

  1. I will withhold full judgement until I see the "mock ups", but initially I'm very much opposed to replacing the cross that we now have. I will be very sad to see it go.

  2. I should add to my above post, that of course I appreciate the generous offer of the parishoner. If a replacement is destined, perhaps we could at least consider using the cross in the chapel?

  3. We were very relieved to see the Christus Rex that replaced what many of us considered a monstrosity. I am eager to see the mockups of new designs and am glad that parishioners will have input on the change.

  4. I told Rev Mason several years ago, that the image of the Christ was too small, and was difficult to see from the back half of the nave. I agree a larger one is needed. I think a poly chromed one would work if the colors were subdued, but a light wood tone would also work.


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