The Old Rugged Cross Church in Pokagon

Archived Story

Sindelar donates skills to church

Published 3:46pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

A 35-year-old Cass County family-owned woodworking company will make the replica wooden pews for The Original Old Rugged Cross Church in Pokagon.
Sindelar Fine Woodworking of Edwardsburg will make 22 8-foot-long pews, based on the design of an original pew that was in the then First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon when the hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” publicly debuted there in 191.
Like the originals, the replica pews will be made of three types of wood – ash, poplar and walnut.
John Sindelar Sr., company owner and president, said it is unusual that the original pews were made with multiple wood varieties.  He speculated they were built locally, using readily available wood.
The walnut wood for the replica pews will come from Cass County trees, he said.
He and his son, John Jr., operate the company.  They will donate their time to build the pews.
Although the elder Sindelar collects antique tools, he said they will use modern equipment to craft the pews, working about one day on each.  They plan to construct the pews this winter.
“It’s great that people are rallying around to put it all together to restore the church,” he said.  “We are glad to be part of it.”
The company has replicated furniture for the Michigan and Ohio state capitols.
“Donors can fund a pew for a donation of $1,000 or more to The Old Rugged Cross Foundation (ORCF),” said Robert Shaffer, ORCF president.
“We are very grateful for the Sindelars’ donation of their time,” he added.  “That will help reduce the cost for donors who want to support a pew.  We already have donors for several.”
Donor information will be engraved into a wooden plaque and attached to the end of each pew.
The ORCF, which is managing the church’s restoration, also is accepting donations for replica stenciled, leaded glass windows for the church, listed on the National Register of Historic places and located at 61040 Vermont St. in Pokagon.
Donors have funded four of the eight windows to date.
Two were installed in August.  Two more will be installed this winter.  Each window has two “dedication/memorial” panels that enable donors to collaborate on funding a window.
The 9-foot-tall replica windows can be funded for a donation of $11,000 or more, each, which includes installation.

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