Greenbelt Interfaith News
    U.S. Feature

    July 31, 1997

    Summer Conventions '97
    Presbyterian Moderator's Cross is Symbolic Church History
    By Nancy Rodman
    Presbyterian News Service

    The cross presented to each new moderator at the time of installation is highly symbolic of the history of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Although referred to as the Moderator's Cross, it is in fact three crosses riveted together.

    In 1948 the Rev. Dr. H. Ray Anderson, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, bought two silver Celtic crosses on the Scottish island of Iona. Later that year, Anderson presented one of the crosses to the Rev. Dr. Jesse H. Baird, moderator of the 160th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The next year, during the 89th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., he presented the second cross to the Rev. Dr. W. E. Price following Price's election as moderator of that Assembly.

    Soon after, the Rev. Frederick W. Ingle, a minister of the PCUS, purchased a similar Celtic cross while visiting Iona and sent it to Dr. Anderson for presentation, in 1953, to the newly-elected moderator of the United Presbyterian Church in North America, Samuel C. Weir.

    Anderson longed for the reunion of the two Presbyterian denominations separated by the conflict over slavery, and in presenting the first two crosses expressed the hope that someday they would be reunited. He died in 1979, before the divisions of the Civil War could be healed, but not before he saw two of the three crosses united when, in 1958, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., and the United Presbyterian Church in North America came together to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The two crosses, now one, became a symbol of Presbyterian unity.

    Anderson's dream became reality in Atlanta in 1983 when the cross worn by moderators of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and the now single cross, formerly two, were riveted together. Cheers and applause erupted as more than 5,000 people watched UPCUSA Moderator James H. Costen and PCUS Moderator John F. Anderson place the chain from which hung the united crosses around the neck of the Rev. Dr. J. Randolph Taylor, first moderator of the newly reunited Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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