On Easter Sunday nearly 80 years ago, residents of Provo of all faiths gathered at the base of Y Mountain for a sunrise services. It was part of a growing tradition and to honor it a cross was constructed.
While the cross lies in pieces and has since been forgotten, it is in the process of being rebuilt and restored.
“It felt like God wanted it done,” Provo resident Niki Thornock said. “That’s been my feeling the whole way across and if he wants it done sooner or later, it will get done. And we’ve run into a few brick walls but it’s gotten done.”
Thornock said she first heard about the cross while working on a history of her LDS ward, which is at the base of Y Mountain. She had been talking to one of the older members of the ward when she first heard about the cross.
“A couple days later we went to go look at it, and it was broken up and had graffiti on it,” Thornock said. “I thought, ‘This isn’t right,’ and I was going to fix it.”
While she started working to restore the Easter Cross, Thornock did run into a couple of issues, like finding a new location for the cross before finding a place at Eastlawn Memorial Cemetery.
Eric Hedengren volunteered to do the landscaping around where the cross will be installed, once it has been repaired by a stone mason, for his Eagle Scout project. He said he decided to chose this as his project because of its staying power.
“This is going to last a long time,” he said. “Some Eagle Scout projects are collecting stuff and that’s not very symbolic, but these plants and trees are going to be maintained and are going to last.”
He and a group of community members and BYU students worked Saturday to spread topsoil, install sod and plant trees and shrubs in the area.
In addition to the message of the Easter Cross, Hedengren said he liked how the finished product and the project were bringing people together.
“I just like the idea of bringing local churches together because we are so majority LDS in this area,” Hedengren said.
Dave Lewis, who is in charge of public and building affairs at the Provo Community Congregational United Church of Christ in addition to being its music director, said the Easter Cross and the interfaith sunrises services have historically brought people together, which is why the church assists with fundraising.
While the services were discontinued in the ’50s because of poor weather, they brought together many people of multiple denominations.
“The church wanted to keep the service happening years ago and the history of that was important to keep going in Provo especially with there being such a predominant faith in Provo some of the other faiths do feel neglected by the general public,” Lewis said.
As the Easter Cross is being restored, Lewis said Provo Community Congregational United Church of Christ wants to bring back the interfaith services that accompanied it too. Their service this year, which will be held at 7 a.m. on Sunday, will be a tribute to the once-great landmark and will feature a presentation on its future.
“We are feeling excited about resurrecting that history of the Easter Cross in Provo,” Lewis said.