Sagemont Cross: New Higher Power Lines Beltway 8

What’s this? A new clean, modern design for the high-voltage power line structures along the Sam Houston Tollway, just west of I-45 South?

Naah — it’s Sagemont Church’s new 170-ft.-tall steel cross, viewed in its natural setting. Plus: It lights up at night!


A church blog documents the construction process, which was completed just a few days ago.

Sagemont beat out its more PR-savvy neighbor, Grace Community Church, in Houston’s ongoing giant-cross competition. Grace plans to build 2 giant crosses on I-45, one of which will be sited less than 2 miles from the Sagemont model. The Grace Community Church crosses are expected to be 20 feet shorter, but they’ll up the ante with a more ornate design: each cross will stab through a hollow globe planted atop a colonnaded elevator platform.

Photos: Sagemont Church (power lines), Flickr user luna715 (night; license), Lauren Meyers (closeup)

54 Comment

  • OMG, they really did it. PFSSH!

  • Jesus (excuse the pun), that thing is horrible and embarrassing.

  • Does it have a lightning rod?

  • My Jeebus is bigger than YOUR Jeebus!

  • Who wants to bet that on Easter they hang a big inflatable J.C. on it? Ya know, like those strong men inflatables on top of gyms, or (my favorite) the orange-jumpsuited convict inflatable on the roof of the bail bonds place on I-45 near Patton. Oh, wait — they won’t. Too Catholic.

  • When I went by there to take the pictures, it wasn’t quite as gargantuan as my mind expected it to be (don’t get me wrong – it’s HUGE though).

    A funny (or not) aside – I got back in to my car to leave the church, and my car was dead – turns out the battery just gave up at that very moment. Maybe it was a sign, but the more creepy sign was the fact that a dozen or so vehicles coming in and out of the church (probably people who worked there) just went by me and my poor car with the hood up and not one stopped to ask if I needed any help…

  • A giant light-up cross?!?! It’s vulgar, it’s inappropriate, and it gives churches a bad name. It’s like some redneck saw Rio’s Christ on Corcovado and wanted to make a South Houston version.

  • Now, now…are Swamplot readers forgetting the old “Jesus is Lord Flea Market” sign that was for years on the Gulf Freeway just outside 610? It was huge and colorful. Boy, that and the Holder’s cockroach…I miss the old days sometimes…

  • I wonder if anyone would complain about a 150 foot tall Buddha.

  • …rather, I wonder if Grace Church’s members would complain… hmmm

  • I wonder how many poor and homeless people would’ve been fed for the price of Big Ass Cross…er, but feeding SOULS is more important!!!

  • We need to set up 170′ symbols all over the place. Giant spider monkeys, Schlitz cans, pencil sharpeners, dunce caps, volcanoes, hamburgers, wombats, etc. Hey, we’re just getting started!

  • It’s kind of bland. Can’t they do better than that? Should have shifting psychedelic colored lights. Could add seats to it that rise and fall. Charge admission, etc.

  • I’m glad I don’t go to that church anymore. They started getting loopy a couple of years ago. They dirtied up the church by bringing the filth and division of politics to what should be a holy place. And now, they are pushing huge man-made objects (and essentially idolatry) in place of genuine faith and spiritual worship. Shame on them!

  • Ooo ooo ooo, Jimbo — you’re describing the Church of the Holy Oldenburg. Maybe Texas Pipe on Almeda could expand their in-the-air outdoor sculpture collection to wombats, pencil sharpeners and spider monkeys. How about a giant Earl Campbell?

  • Ooo ooo ooo, wait — I have a better idea for the Sagemont Cross: Install R. Allen Stanford on it. Either before or after he goes to trial, it doesn’t matter. A little exposure and bright sunshine would do him some good.

  • I find it rather sad that all of you feel the need to complain about something like this and yet none of you spout off with your ignorance when it comes to everything else that litters our city. Are any of you franticly pounding away at your keyboard over the adult club billboards? What about the 60 foot tall McDonalds signs? Is there an anti-Ronald McDonald website out there that you frequesnt?
    Perhaps you feel that only non christians deserve freedom of speech. Maybe only your opinion is all that matters.
    As for the ones that want to complain about the money spent and if it could have been used for something else…get over yourselves. Sagemont Church has never and will never borrow money to do something. It’s members have provided everything needed to make the Church a better place. If you are so concerned about what Sagemont Church does with money then perhaps you should go to one of the budget meetings. Perhaps then you would see that this cross was but a penny compaired to the amount used to spread God’s word.
    Who am I kidding though, you all will continue on blindly. Complaining about the good things, and ignoring everything else. Go on little sheeple, blast away.

  • Brian,

    Perhaps the novelty aspect of this structure is what has piqued the interest of Swamplot readers. Novelty, because the battle against the billboards (whatever they advertise, be it titty bars or worthy charities) has been a long, hard slog in this town. Decades of fighting produces fatigue, no? And something new and different, if ultimately inconsequential, can provide a needed respite, from which the battle can resume.

    Visual clutter and pollution has been an unfortunate symbol of Houston since the city was born. Colossal-scale advertising, whether the Gallery Furniture campus or a sky-scraping religious advertisement, is now considered a blight by citizens who would prefer to live in a city where leaving one’s front porch doesn’t automatically make for an eyesore headache.

  • Thanks Miz Brooke for the well-structured reply to Brian’s diatribe. Gauche advertising, regardless of the product, is never defensible. And this is from an advertising guy.

  • From Bill Burge:

    I wonder if anyone would complain about a 150 foot tall Buddha.
    I think the answer to that is obvious: there would be howls of outrage.

  • I don’t think there would be outrage over a Buddha. Everybody would think it was “cute” and look for the adjacent Chinese restaurant.

  • I have so many issues with what Brian wrote above, but I’ll keep it short. In the eyes of many a casual observer, a 170 foot cross seems more like idolatry than evangelism. And think a little bit about the true purpose of that enormous idol Sagemont has built. How exactly does that glorify God and spread his good word?

    But more to the point, we as blog-posters reserve the right to snark and belittle anything we deem silly, tastless, or a poor use of funds and property, and it certainly doesn’t make us christian-haters. So, Brian, you should probably take your own advice and get over yourself. And just for the sake of argument (and a little more snark), what would Jesus do? Would he have a hissy fit in the face of this criticism, or would he try something like, I don’t know, turning the other cheek and perhaps offering some counterpoint about the good work that the church does in the community?

  • The turn the other cheek actually has a basis in Roman society that is missing in the current world. Back then if you hit someone on the right cheek you declared them an equal (it was a way to free slaves). So Jesus turning the other cheek really was meant to be a form of standing up for oneself.

    Now to the monstrosity that I have to see every single day when I leave my subdivision. It’s an eye-sore. People are still trying to rebuild their homes and lives after Ike. There are firestorms in Australia and these people decide to use money to put forth a giant symbol of their faith rather then show what kind of Christians they are by taking care of the people.

    If I recall my Bible stories correctly, Jesus was very disgusted by this sort of attitude at Temples. The important thing to Jesus was doing good to others quietly not screaming it from the towers while spending money on fancy things to pretend to care.

    Real Christians don’t run around buying expensive things and trying to buy their way into Heaven, they do the little things every single day to make others lives better. This sort of display makes a mockery of Christ and of Christianity. A giant Cross does nothing for my neighborhood but drop the property values. It’s made it impossible to look at the sky at night through a telescope (it was bad before but not too bad, add in all that extra light pollution and I want to scream.) At some points I’m debating just giving up and selling my house so I can move to a place that doesn’t have light pollution. Other times I don’t want to feel like I’m being forced from my home because someone decided to put up a monstrosity.

    Either way, it’s a disgusting show that proves that they care more about looks then doing anything REAL for people.

  • Yeah – What SHE said! I second that Amen.

  • Lisa,

    That was the dumbest comment I’ve ever heard in my life…

  • I also take issue with Brian’s comment. The funds to build such monstrosities often are available because of the fact that churches are tax exempt, thus freeing up money for purposes of proselytizing. Tax exempt status for churches is a clear violation of the seperation of church and state.

  • Sakoo:

    So instead of debating me on the actual points you’d rather jump straight into the personal attacks?

    I call troll. If you don’t have anything that adds to the conversation then allow those with actual points to debate it and step back into the masses of mob mentality.

    Real Christians spend everyday doing what Christ did, taking care of people who everyone else deems unworthy. Christ didn’t run around with gobs of money and the rich. In his parables he tried to point out that those sorts of ways led to emptiness.

    Christ was the epitome of self-sacrificing. Anyone deluding themselves into believing that he’d be impressed with a giant Cross in his honor doesn’t know a thing about him. Never really bothered to read what he said and would be exactly the kind of people that he hated and fought against.

    Christ was a wonderful example of what a human being is supposed to be. This mockery of his name is despicable and unworthy of anyone who claims to follow him. If you love Christ do what he did. Give to the poor, take care of the sick, be there for your fellow man and don’t run around paying it lip service. DO IT!

    The only thing those giant crosses scream to me is compensation. They’re compensating for a lack of real human compassion. It’s easier to give money to giant idols and pay lip service to real Service of our fellow man then it is to actually do it and not have everyone in the world know you’ve done it.

    The secret is, if you do it with no intention of getting a pat on the back it means more. God’s watching, I don’t think he’s thrilled.

  • I will comment in the order of your replies.

    Miz Brooke Smith:
    This “needed respite” is nothing more than fuel for their ignorance.
    If you would prefer to live somewhere that you can enjoy the view, then do so. Crying about it or anything else isn’t going to change the fact that it is there.

    The Cross is a symbol of hope, a reminder that God is there for you. You ask how it helps spread The Word of God? Ask the 50 people that gave their lives to God in the past two weeks. Ask the multitudes of people that have now come to Sagemont seeking answers. Or the people that show up at 4 in the morning asking for forgivness. Or the ones reminded that God is with them as they drive by.
    As for asking what would Jesus do, I could not say. I never have and never will pretend to fully understand Him. I do know from reading The Bible he handled things differently. I know that he was angered by the merchants in the temple. But for me to assume I know how he would react, I couldn’t really say. My best guess would be that he would be happy over the results.

    Lisa Adams:
    The Cross was a little over 150k if my memory serves me correctly. After Ike Sagemont began work immediatly on rebuilding many peoples houses and fences along with restocking food stores, clothing people, and clean up. Do you honestly expect one church to handle all of the worlds problems? Do you think that Sagemonts members could afford to even begin to take on a task that grand? We do what we can. Be it our 2,000 misionaries, our youth ministry, our helping hands ministry, or our childrens ministry we do everything we can for the people around and even those away from us. All of that and you pipe up because we built something taller than a power line. Go figure.
    You and many others like you have complained that your property values will drop because of it. I have yet to see proof of this. I don’t see how it could affect the value of your property any more than say the noisy freeway and beltway that is there. Or the row of powerlines.
    As for your star gazing being ruined…did you just move to Houston? Houston hasn’t been a great spot to do that for a very long time. If that truly is a passion of yours then I would sudgest moving out to the country, or perhaps a weekend trip at least. Crying because you can’t see .0000000000000000000000000001 % of the sky now because of the cross is quite moronic.

    The funds are available because our members provide it.

    Lisa Adams:
    He also didn’t sit around and expect people to do everything for him. He also instructed Christians to go out to the masses and spread his word. Well, this cross has done exactly that.
    Again we see talk of Sagemont not doing enough for people. Compensation is the word you used. Like we as a church are trying to buy our way into Heaven. I can assure you that isn’t the case.
    One more thing Lisa, what does The Bible say about judging people?

    I invite you to come down to Sagemont and see it for yourself. Check out our Living Proof project. Our intentions are to show living proof of a loving God. Come and see what we do for the comunity on a daily basis. Shoot, you can come and pitch in as well.

    Thanks for the talk folks, I’ll check back soon.

  • You’ve missed my point. If churches were paying taxes on the sometimes very large amount of money coming in, they would have less money to put towards proselytizing. Thus, efforts like this are often subsidized by the federal government.

  • As the late, great Bill Hicks observed, when Jesus comes back will he *really* want to see crosses everywhere?

  • Thanks for the reply Brian. Interesting to hear from someone on the “inside.”

    As for the cross, out of curiosity, do you know the cost of it? I can’t find any numbers, but read that the Effingham one was about twice as much steel (180 tons) and cost about $1,000,000.

    I understand that the members agreed to and paid for the construction of the cross – that doesn’t baffle me. I’m not a Christian, however, and not 100% versed in things about it, so the cross itself is quite…interesting to me.

  • I’ve heard the defense that if no one objects to strip clubs and adult businesses having signs, why would they object to a wholesome cross?

    The issue is height and lighting. If a porn shop setup a 15 story tall display most people would be up in arms, why should this cross be exempt? There are several other churches in the area with large crosses out front, but none taller than a typical commercial sign. No complaints there.

    For an icon which represents a religion with a murky past, the cross cannot represent only positive attributes. Hope, love, and forgiveness are all very nice, but how about intimidation, arrogance, conformity, and intolerance?

    Any non-christian in the area is quite likely to feel uncomfortable now seeing this giant symbol of mixed meanings bearing over their home.

    I can’t play favorites though for as much as their giant cross is in bad taste and illustrates their lack of respect toward their neighbors, a giant ankh, pentacle, or phallic symbol would be just as unwelcome.

    I’m sure someone from the church is going to argue back that it can only represent god’s love, so lets take the opposite viewpoint. How would they feel as a christian if some 15 story islamic icon went up where they had to see it every time they left their home? Intimidated? Outraged? Persecuted?

    If thats the case, then this is another event where the golden rule should apply.

  • Brian,

    No I don’t honestly expect 1 church to take care of the ills of the world. What I do expect though is that Christians act like Christians and not flaunt their religion.

    As for presuming what Jesus and God would think? They were pretty obvious on the subject in the Bible. Jesus threw a fit at the displays of money and riches in the temple. He was NOT a fan of people putting on big displays. He made that quite clear. I don’t know how much more clear he could have been. In his parables he many times pointed out that the displays meant nothing to him and to God.

    I’m not presuming, I’m quoting.

    He said spread the word, but have you thought about the message?

    Crosses don’t promote Christ. They promote intolerance and cruelty. Think about the history of Christianity. Think about the things that Christians have done in the name of Christ. PEOPLE convert people not Crosses or symbols. Symbols scare people, they make them less likely to listen and they make them less likely to want anything to do with the people who hold them dear.

    Face to face, caring, sharing and understanding do things for people. They let people see beyond the symbols, beyond the labels.

    Here’s a flip side for you.

    If an Islamic group were to build a giant symbol of their belief outside of their Mosque for the same reasons that you built your Cross, would you feel “hope, peace, and joy” or would you feel intimidated like you had to defend yourself?

    I want you to be 100% honest on this, don’t pay it lip service. I know many people within the area who are NOT Christian and the only thing they’re feeling is intimidation when they look at that cross. They remember the things that have been done in the name of Christ not in the spirit of Christ.

    Christ didn’t want people put to death if they didn’t believe in him, but people were. Christ didn’t want people forced to convert or die in his name. Yet they were, no your church didn’t do that but the history and the taint of that action still sits on that symbol for many people.

    You would have been better off building a giant Christ in my opinion. At the very least that could be considered a symbol of hope, instead you built a symbol that has long been tainted by a nasty history. A symbol of oppression and fear that was used to force people to follow a belief system they may never have followed on their own.

    As I said, the real Christians avoid those displays for a reason. You don’t need to flaunt who you are, the Good Samaritan didn’t. Good works speak for themselves.

  • As a final note Brian,

    No thank you. Living proof I already have and I have it outside of a church. My proof was my mother and the wonderful person she was. My mother was the most Christian woman I’ve ever met and I will never meet another like her. She’s passed from this world and the world is a worse place as far as I’m concerned.

    She used to tell me that giant displays were worthless, how would a parent feel seeing people use the thing that murdered his child as a symbol of him? I don’t think any parent would want that.

    I agree with my mother. That Cross has represented murder, control, cruelty and horrible atrocities for centuries. I wouldn’t have objected to a large Christ. Though 15 stories is still a bit much.

    I will object to a 15 story Cross. Judgment is something that God gave us to use. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be given so many parables now would we? They aren’t immediately understood, you have to read them and think about them then use judgment to take what you will from them.

    I find that those who go to churches often forget about the people they effect around them. They become part of a group mentality and forget that symbols can have adverse reactions especially symbols that have traditionally been used to oppress and murder.

    While one group might find a Cross uplifting, another finds it frightening. Yet, seeing a statue of a person doesn’t have that same effect. I’m not offended seeing a statue.

    The height is still a problem and the lights still bother me. Too many lights, too much light pollution. That bothers me. It bothers me that your church didn’t ask the neighbors what they thought or how they felt. Instead you just did what you wanted to do without thinking about the opinions of the people whose property values you now effect. All those things speak volumes about your church.

    Oh, and for the record, I’m not big on proselyting either. I think those who want to find Christ will and the best way to get that message across is quietly and politely. Not in other people’s faces screaming and pamphleting everything. Christ did everything in a quiet way. His own actions show that he cared about the oppressed and hated oppressors.

  • Demo,

    I agree with you. The more I think of it the more I realize that I could have lived with a smaller symbol. I might not appreciate it but the height was in bad taste. I wouldn’t have wanted a 15 story statue of Christ either. I wouldn’t have objected nearly so much, because it would have been something that has never been done, but the height would still have been an issue.

    15 stories for anything other then buildings and monuments are eye-sores. They effect property values. Which is precisely my issue. I bought a nice home and wanted to be here for a few years at least. Now I find myself disgusted by that Cross. Everywhere I usually go I run into it over the horizon and all I can think is that it’s in bad taste. That my property value is going to plummet and feel sorry for my non-Christian neighbors who now feel unwanted and attacked.

    Which considering the history of that particular symbol I can understand that feeling. The church was arrogant and only cared what the members of their church thought not what the neighborhood whom they would be effecting thought. These same people I’m sure would be protesting at the top of their lungs if any other religion but their own did this.

    That symbol is tainted. It’s been used as an excuse for murder and theft for too long. Those who have histories with it KNOW this and feel the intimidation. Immigrants and people who have seen their countries plundered by Christians especially. Do I believe the people who did that were real Christians? No, but that symbol comes with too much baggage. There are many symbols which have been retired because of the bad things that have come to be associated with them. I wish this one would be discarded as well.

  • Ooooo, a 150-foot tall phallic symbol! Now there’s an idea for civic boosterism — a gigantic lingam. “Welcome to Houston, Land of the Big…” Paid for with appropriate corporate sponsorship, of course (Landry’s and Stanford, perhaps?) and designed by that master of the tacky colossus, David Adickes. The only question would be, where to locate it?

  • The money for that cross could have probably fed a lot of hungry people.

  • I love how SteveS just boiled down the argument against the giant cross to one sentence. I add one more sentence – this cross is offensive because it is a symbol of the religious intolerance that drives evangelistic Christian churches such as Sagemont.

    And don’t try to tell me about how diverse the congregation is – that’s not really the point. My objection is to the philosophy of this aggressive form of evangelism, and the ignorance or intolerance of other religions that underlies it.

    And back to the real estate landscape part of the blog – add me to the list of people who live in the nearby community and consider this monstrosity to be a BLIGHT and an EYESORE, as well as a not-so-subtle form of intimidation.

  • If Christians bothered to read their Bible and check church history they would find that the true symbol for Yahushua (Jesus) is actually the 7 branched menorah NOT the cross. A little research will reveal that the cross is actually a symbol for “t” Tammuz also known as Apollo, Zeus, Adonis, Jupiter, Baal, Ahura Mazda, Osiris and on and on and on. The cross has nothing to do with “Jesus” except that He was impaled on a stake that looked like a cross when the cross beam was placed on it and the placard was attached to it. Either way this NEVER represented Him in the eyes of the Disciples – NEVER!

    Also check Egyptian hieroglyphics – again you find the cross with a sun disc above it. This represents the sun god rising.

    The Scripture says, “ people are destroyed from lack of knowledge..” What an understatement for Sagemont church and others! Pastors – YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER – stop leading “your” people astray!

  • Do we not have lighting ordinances in our neighborhoods? There are plenty of lighting sources that don’t flood on surroundings. My battle is with home security lighting that could light a wal-mart parking lot, so that when I sit in my backyard, I am cast in a blueish glow. Flood and spotlights people! Spotlights around the perimeter of your home that light only the grounds of your property and floodlights that light the expanse but only on your property. I HATE THE BIG BLUE LIGHTS IN THE SKY!!! And further, when you have one big ugly blue light in the sky, you create a lot of shadows that the criminals thrive in. Sorry, I digress. I empathize with the neighbors in the adjoining shadow of the cross neighborhood. I would start haranguing my council members and state reps.

  • Any idea how much this thang cost?

  • Speaking of light pollution, don’t forget to switch them all off at 8:30pm next Saturday 3-28th!

  • So much to say… I’ll simply say with all the filth plastering the world these days, I would not focus my energy on complaining about a symbol of peace and hope (no matter what you say – these days the cross is just that – no question. If you want to dig into hundreds of years ago and look at mankind’s mistakes, there are a lot of them at which to look. But a cross is a symbol of peace and hope. And I didn’t want to go here but when is the last time you saw Christian’s fly jet liners into buildings and have other Christian’s cheering about it? Right. Enough silly comments about the muslim symbol in the city. Are you serious?)

    Hey, all of you spending your mental energy and time debating this, why don’t you spend that time and energy helping other people (go volunteer at a church for example?)

    Atatatat!! Tuck that keyboard in. Take the time it would take you to formulate your response and instead go volunteer to help mankind! mmkay? ;o) Now anyone who replies to this is now a hypocrit who deserves a spanking. :O)

  • I’m sure many of us do what you have suggested, and also perhaps we’re pretty deft at formulating quick responses to this ;)

    As far as the cost associated with the cross, how much does 90 tons of steel cost plus the laborers?

  • I think the debate is not so much over a symbol of peace but more over a symbol of peace whose erectors showed blatant disregard for the wishes of those living close to it.

  • Hey look, a giant wang.

  • I wonder if those of you concerned about the cost have volenteered or gave anything to help mankind. Come to Sagemont check us out. We give food to the needy every day as well as sending people around the world to teach about JESUS. Have a Blessed Day.

  • Nobody complained about HUGE WHITE HOUSE MENORAH.

  • joann,

    The White House seasonal religious symbols are temporary. This thing is set in concrete.

  • Wow beautiful. It’s nice and clean looking. I wish we had more of them. Finally a positive symbol for once.

  • When I see this cross I am lifted in spirit, and know that I am almost home. (You can take that both ways :) ) I love it. It reminds me that we thankfully haven’t kicked the Lord completely out of our nation, which gives me hope that America will wake up from its zesty flirtation with deliberate evil.