Page last updated at 21:32 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Church removes 'scary crucifix'

The sculpture of Christ on the crucifix
The 1960s sculpture of Christ is made of coal dust and resin

A large sculpture of Christ on the cross has been removed from outside a church in West Sussex after its vicar said it was "scaring young children".

The Reverend Ewen Souter said the 10ft crucifix was "a horrifying depiction of pain and suffering" which was also "putting people off".

The sculpture, located at the side of St John's Church in Broadbridge Heath, has now been given to Horsham Museum.

It will be replaced with a new stainless steel cross.

In a survey carried out by the church, every comment about the sculpture was negative.

'Sense of hope'

Mr Souter said: "Children have commented on how scary they find it and how off-putting they find it as a symbol outside the church.

"As a key exterior symbol for us it was putting people off rather than having a sense of hope and life and the power of the resurrection."

He said rather than undermining the work of the cross, the church wanted to portray "an accurate biblical picture of the crucifixion as a moment of hopefulness for the world, and not one of despair".

The sculpture was designed in the 1960s by former Royal Society of British Sculptors president, Edward Bainbridge Copnall, and made out of coal dust and resin.

It was removed from the church just before Christmas and will be mounted on a large wall in the grounds of Horsham Museum.

Jeremy Knight, curator, said the powerful image portrayed by the figure was that of Christ in pain.

"That today isn't an image which a lot of churches want to follow. They'd much rather see an empty cross where Christ has risen," he said.

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The Reverend Ewen Souter said the crucifix "puts people off"



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