Parishioners, friends and families gathered Tuesday morning at the First Christian Church of Tyler entrance to celebrate the raising of a new bell tower that features a 30-foot-tall cross.
Attendees watched the church’s 110-foot-tall bell tower rise while remembering the replaced cross’ historical significance. The cross was used at the church’s previous location in downtown Tyler.
“It is the original cross that has been up there since 1965. We had to take it down a couple of years ago, we noticed it looked like it was listing a bit. We were afraid it might fall,” said Senior Pastor Chris Pulliam.
Two years ago when the cross seemed to be tilting, together, the church decided to bring the cross down. Pulliam said when the existing structure was taken down, the church received many phone calls about the cross.
“To some, it was unfortunate. To some, it was a real heartbreak. They were like, ‘Where’s our cross? We need our cross,’ and we all agreed that we need that up there. It just took a while to get it up there, but I think it’s going to be up there another 50 years plus until we have to do something again,” Pulliam said.
The entire structure was redesigned with the church’s original architectural style in mind. There will be lights and bells added to the tower to shine at night.
Two years later, the cross is back up on the church and Pulliam said the congregation loved the way it looked.
First Christian Church moved to its current location in 1965 after being in the downtown Tyler area. Some members who attended the bell tower raising have been with the church since ‘65.
The building was renovated in 2014, and Pulliam said adding the new tower was the last piece of the renovation.
“Our mission here is to speak and live for Christ in our community and world, so this is something for our community as they drive by, as they hear the bells, so it affects all of us,” Pulliam said. “There are like 80,000 cars that go through that intersection, so we hope it affects everyone in a positive way, a still, small voice that allows us to think of higher thoughts of God. This corner is such a main focus of the community. We are pleased to have that statement of faith.”
Nancy Grant, a Tyler resident and member of First Christian Church for 47 years, attended the tower raising ceremony as members took photos and videos of the historic moment, prayed and sang a hymns together.
“My granddaughter and I, some years ago, we watched the cross go down, and we’ve been through so many design plans that we couldn’t afford and we’ve missed having it up there. Since we’re a central location at the center of town, it’s something we wanted to get back,” Grant said.
She added that additional visitors have joined the church because of the bell tower and the cross.
“Our music will be starting soon. We’re having a little problem with that, but that’ll be starting soon,” Grant said. “It’s an important part of Tyler and we want the cross to be the center. That’s what it is for our church and that’s what it is here in Tyler.”
The church, located on the corner of South Broadway Avenue and Loop 323, will have a celebration on Sunday to celebrate the last piece of improvement to their renovations.