Motorists along Interstate 75 saw the first signs of a new statue of Jesus Christ being constructed at the Solid Rock Church near Monroe.
Construction crews Wednesday erected the first 20 feet of the new statue, which will be 51 feet tall, by building the legs of the structure. Ron Carter, church administrator, said the Lux Mundi statue, which means light of the world in Latin, were will have more sections attached to represent Jesus Christ with outstretched arms.
“It’s a reminder for those who go up and down I-75 that Christ is the hope of the world and that he is the light of the world,” Carter said. “That’s one of the missions of the church — to present Christ to the world and this is one way we do that.”
The statue replaces the “King of Kings” or “Touchdown Jesus” statue that was destroyed by fire following a lightning strike on June 15, 2010. The original statue cost about $250,000 to construct, according to news reports.
“It really was an icon in this area,” he said. “The congregation really loved the other statue and it received favorable feedback. When it burned down, we received feedback from as far away as China expressing support and sympathy for the loss of the first statue. I think the new statue will engender the same reaction when it’s completed.”
Carter could not reveal the cost to construct the new statue due to a confidentiality agreement with the artist, Tom Tsuchiya of Cincinnati.
Crews will be back out next week to install the statue’s torso section and will return a few more times to erect the arms, head and feet, Carter said. “It has to be ready by the dedication ceremony on Sept. 30,” he said.
Carter said the previous statue was constructed with foam and Fiberglas that were flammable.
However, he said that additional precautions have been taken to prevent fire from claiming the new statue. Carter said the new statue will have a higher density foam with a fire retardant and that the outside and inside of the statue will be coated with polyurea, another fire retardant. In addition, the new statue will have a lightning suppression system.
“We’ve been told that if lightning should strike the new statute, the damage would only be at the point of the lightning strike and the rest of the statue would not catch fire,” Carter said.
He said the pieces for the new statue are already shaped but not all of them have been coated with the fire retardant material. Once the statue is completed, the small lake in front of it will be refilled, Carter said.
Carter said the Monroe megachurch has about 3,200 members. He said about 1,700 to 1,800 people typically attend services on Sunday and another 450 to 500 people attend services at its Beechmont Campus.