(Photo: YouTube/The Great Cross)
The Great Cross Alliance, founded by a California family, is hoping that hundreds of thousands of Christians from every branch of the faith will help it raise the billion dollars needed to construct a cross monument 10 times the length of a professional football field that also doubles as "a massive columbarium and mausoleum that will be a physical memorial to Jesus Christ."
The project is set to become the largest religious monument and also one of the largest cemeteries in the world, the group claims. Although the mammoth structure has been tailored to Christians, "any person can be interred in the Great Cross without discrimination," The Great Cross Alliance explains on its website. It also notes that Catholics, mainline Protestants, Mormons, Adventists, and agnostics served as advisers in the development of the project, set to begin construction in 2014.
The Family Behind The Cross
Founders Laurie and Mike Nowland, assisted in The Cross project by their two adult children, explain that their goal in undertaking this unusual project is to "build a monument that will make a powerful, lasting, unifying statement about the Word of God as given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ."
The family, whose "faith background is in the Catholic part of Christianity," all hold Bachelor of Science degrees (save for one), either in marketing, engineering or finance.
The Nowland patriarch says he "saw The Cross in a series of dreams," and has been planning with his wife for the last four years on how to make his visions a reality.
The Great Cross Alliance was set up as a for-profit enterprise because "people don't take nonprofits seriously," Nowland told the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.
Financing The Cross
Any member of the public from any part of the world can join the Nowlands in creating the Christian monument, which has reportedly been "designed to last more than ten thousand years."
Apart from contributions and membership fees, financing The Cross, to be made of "strong synthetic stone," depends heavily on people purchasing one of the 600,000 vaults that make up the structure. Each vault is large enough to intern the remains of two people, and ranges in price from $4,000-$14,000. Caskets for interior mausoleum spaces run from $25,000 for a single casket, to $30,000 for a double casket.
According to the website, initial costs to get the project off the ground "require relatively little money, estimated to be less than two million U.S. dollars."
"The initial phases will be funded by advance purchase of memberships and donations through The Great Cross Alliance. Continuing construction will be funded smoothly and gradually over time, as Alliance members pay for their vaults."
The Great Cross Alliance states on its website that it "will protect itself from inflation, bad investments, changes in tax laws, or other monetary mishaps by building the structure as funds are received."
Design of The Cross
The Cross structure is expected to take 20-30 years to complete. Glass-roofed hallways inside the massive structure will lead to a centralized chapel, planned to be 100 feet in diameter. The walls of the chapel will have inscriptions of the full text of the Bible in English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Hindi.
"The central chapel will be the protected heart of the monument, designed to protect the Word in readable condition for at least ten thousand years," the alliance explains.
The Cross is designed to be environmentally friendly, with complex chemicals kept out of its planned construction. The substructure's primary material will be concrete, "which is largely sand and lime, the material of most seashells," The Great Cross Alliance explains.
"A major positive environmental effect will be reduced pressure on cemeteries in more crowded areas. The Great Cross will inter the remains of roughly a million people in an area of one square mile," according to the website.
Location of The Cross
The Nowlands have secured a location eat of Reno, Nev., as the site of The Cross, which will be 3,000 feet long and 1,845 feet across. A glass dome will top off the Christian structure at 223 feet high.
According to a press release: "The project has been received favorably by local officials, and reviewed by architects, geologists, and engineers. Laurie and Mike are working with prominent Reno area constructors Q&D Construction. Q&D has excavated deep test trenches on the site, and is conducting an evaluation of the Nowlands' cost estimates."
A video of The Great Cross can be viewed below, or on YouTube.