Proos, Lori honor Old Rugged Cross Foundation at Capitol

Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, and Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine, on Wednesday presented the Old Rugged Cross Foundation with a special tribute in recognition of their work to preserve the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon, which earned the organization a 2013 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.

“It is an honor and distinct privilege to pay tribute to Robert and Molly Shafer for forming the Old Rugged Cross Foundation and launching a community-wide effort to rehabilitate the historic church,” Proos said. “The extraordinary efforts of the foundation, Pokagon Township, the D. Layman Construction Company and others restored a beautiful church, saved a piece of history and made everyone in Southwest Michigan proud.”

The church achieved national notoriety when it became the first place the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” was sung in its entirety in 1913. Pokagon Township residents and volunteers from all across the country and world worked with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office to complete an accurate restoration of the church, also known as the Old Rugged Cross Church.

“It is the vision and tenacity of those who wish to see our heritage preserved which helps us remember who we are and the history of where we live,” Lori said. “All involved should be applauded for ensuring that this project made the long journey to completion.”