Organizers of the Corpus Christie Cross Project broke ground in Texas this week as they begin their construction of the largest cross in the United States.
Pastor Rick Milby confirmed to local media outlets that construction for the $1 million cross began at the Abundant Life Fellowship campus in Corpus Christie earlier this week.
The cross is expected to stand 210 feet tall and 95 feet wide. Milby explained to KRIS-TV that the structure will be able to sway two feet back and forth in the wind due to its massive height and width.
"It'll be made of 5/8 inch cold rolled steel, be welded, and put together in sections," Milby told the local media outlet. "The cross bar on the cross will be 95 feet wide. It will be 12 feet in diameter. The cross is so massive and so tall it will have a two foot deflection at the top, it will actually sway in the wind two feet back and forth."
Milby explains on the Corpus Christie Cross Project's website that he came up with the idea to build a giant cross after seeing the effect a large display at Sagemont Church in Houston, Texas, had on passersby.
"For the next several months God began speaking to my heart about erecting a mega cross in Corpus Christi, Texas, a city named after His church, 'The Body of Christ,'" Milby writes, adding that he visited the leaders of Sagemont Church to discuss the logistics of installing a large structure on their property.
"[Sagemont Church] shared story after story about lives that were changed, suicides that were aborted, relationships that were restored because of the influence of the cross, reminding them that the Redeemer could restore their brokenness," the pastor said.
Standing at 210 feet, the cross will be the second largest in the world and the largest in the western hemisphere.
The largest cross in the world is located in Madrid, Spain, at the Valle de los Caidos, where it stands at 495 feet.
As noted on the project's website, the cross will take $1 million to complete, $142,000 of which has already been raised.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and State Rep. Todd Hunter have both voiced their approval of the cross, with Hunter delivering a proclamation at the project's recent ground-breaking ceremony.
Hunter has long been seen as a champion of First Amendment rights in the state of Texas, recently accepting his third Friend of the First Amendment award from the Texas Press Association.
The republican representative said that he seeks to protect First Amendment rights, including freedom of religion, because he believes it's the right thing for America.
I'm glad to do it," Hunter told the Corpus Christie Caller Times back in September. "I think it is the right thing, and I think it brings a little more integrity and trust to government when they actually pass laws that protects, preserves (freedom of speech, freedom of information and transparency in government issues)."
When completed, the Corpus Christie Cross Project will create a structure taller than the largest cross in the U.S., located in Effingham, Illinois, which stands at 198 feet tall and 113 feet wide.