After cutting down a pine tree near a California church, workers discovered what some believe to be the miraculous appearance of a cross in the trunk that remained.
The trunk, which was on the property of First Congregational Church of Escondido, San Diego County, was being removed because it was leaning on a building next door.
After the pine tree was chopped down, landscaper Jim Rants and his crew noticed the image on the trunk that remained.
As some of Rants’ friends asked if they could have a piece of the tree, churches in the area are expressing skepticism over the claim.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Dr. Jim Standiford of First United Methodist Church of San Diego said that he saw the tree’s image as being natural in origin.
“I do not think God deliberately caused the cross shape for the benefit of the tree cutters. It probably has some natural cause or something happened in the process of cutting the tree that made the shape appear,” said Standiford.
“It is interesting and beautiful in its own way, but I would not consider it a miracle.”
Standiford nevertheless believed that the image could be spiritually beneficial if noted as a reminder of God.
“If seeing the cross shape or having a piece of the tree strengthens a person's faith, it is a good thing for them,” said Standiford.
“Many of us have objects we treasure because the object reminds us of an experience or person we value, or points to God in some way.”
In addition to the larger cross that Rants and his crew initially found, there was a smaller cross found elsewhere on the tree.
This is not the first time this year that someone in the United States has claimed to have found a sacred image appearing supernaturally amid an outdoor environment.
Earlier this month, a Texas man claimed to have found an image of Jesus Christ in a knot of wood while preparing some beams for a table.
Eddie Fregia of Hardin, Texas, was working at the Potetz Home Center of Cleveland, Texas, when he noticed the knot and a showed it to a coworker who agreed that it looked like Jesus.
As with the cross image on the tree trunk, pastors from the general area doubted the accuracy of the claim. Larry Bethune, senior pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, told The Christian Post about his doubts.
“Perhaps such ‘apparitions’ reassure some believers, but they reflect our faith poorly to nonbelievers and confirm the widespread opinion that all Christian belief is superstition,” said Bethune.
In February, a California man noticed something that appeared to be the image of Jesus in an old rocking chair that had been left in his yard for years.
Lou Balducci of Mission Viejo, Calif., would post an ad for the rocking chair on eBay in June with a starting bid of $25,000.