My Chevin Cross memories
Rev'd Alistair Newton
When I came to Otley I was told that the Methodist Minister had the privilege of leading the early Easter morning service (7am) at the foot of the cross. I have always been encouraged by the turn out of folk from Otley and further afield. On occasion we had visitors from Europe, the Americas and beyond. Some years the sun shone and the skies were clear and the air crisp. On other rare occasions through mist and rain the determined gathering rejoiced with sodden worship sheets with the prospect of an Easter breakfast to look forward to. No matter what the weather a good company of people proclaimed the resurrection of the Lord.
In 1998 we were dismayed to see the vandalism of the Cross. The cross lay in pieces; we were saddened to think that someone would do such a thing. The news spread and with the help of Mr Jeffries and other local businessmen, we were all determined that the vandals would not win, and the cross was repaired within hours. The churches of Otley assembled another willing team of volunteers to lift the repaired cross in very cold and blizzard conditions. While we were on the Chevin a BBC outside broadcast van was there to give the weather forecast, but they missed the news scoop of the day!
With the effort of local people a new cross was erected with timbers from the bombing in Manchester. From death comes resurrection - very apt. We were delighted to have Brent Thompson, a local Christian and craftsman, to make a new cross for the Millennium.
One particular year is embedded in my memory. Whilst helping I slipped backwards with the cross pinning my foot to the floor. The result was an injured foot and sore wrists. The following morning I went to Wharfedale Hospital and after various x-rays it was discovered I had sprained my ankle and broken my wrist. The nurse practitioner asked where I had fallen, and had a good laugh when I said, ‘At the foot of the Cross.’
Following my accident, Churches Together instigated a risk assessment and good practice instructions are now available to everyone who helps with the cross. I hope that no one else will have the embarrassment, or the notoriety!
Over the years I have noticed people bringing flowers in memory of loved ones. Some people make a point of walking up to the cross and touching it, and spending a few moments in silent reflection. Quite often I have looked at the cross from the manse and noticed groups of people, or individuals, standing by the cross. The cross is a powerful witness whether seen from afar or at close quarters.
I hope the Chevin Cross continues to proclaim the gospel message of resurrection to all those who see it.
Revd Alistair Newton