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23 crosses on the lawn of University Heights Baptist each represent a person who died by homicide this year in Greene, Christian Counties

Crosses on the lawn of University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield (photo taken December 5, 2023)
Michele Skalicky
Crosses on the lawn of University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield (photo taken December 5, 2023)

The crosses will stay up through December 21 at Grand and National.

A local church is bringing awareness to those who died by violence this year in Greene and Christian Counties.

As traffic flew past, members of Springfield’s University Height’s Baptist Church hammered 23 crosses into the ground.

The crosses on the west lawn of the church at Grand and National each have a name of a person who died by homicide in 2023.

Nolan Porter, lead pastor of University Heights, said the project grew out of the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas in 2022.

"We were thinking about that and praying about the loss of life and just wondering what we could do that would even keep our mind on it for more than a minute and bring some light to the situation involved," he said, "and this just kind of came to mind and something that we could do locally that would shine a light on people who have lost their lives on violence."

He said he hopes those who see the crosses as they drive by will realize how much life is lost each year as people choose to solve their problems in violent ways "and also that there are people hurting — that there are people that are having their first Christmas without somebody that they love very much and that we might mourn and grieve with those who are grieving."

The crosses will stay up through December 21 when the church will hold a service of remembrance, The Longest Night, at 6 p.m. The service will end outside on the lawn, and any family members who are there of those with names on the crosses will be invited to take them home.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.