The idea for the cross was conceived in 1959, when a group of businessmen from Chattahoochee Valley took part in a religious retreat held in Hayesville, N.C. Upon returning to the Valley, their thoughts turned to building a similar complex in the area.
In 1964, 14.6 acres of land was donated to begin this project. The Dr. Frank Tillery of Columbus, Ga, along with his brother and sister, L.R. Tillery and Mrs. M. M. Moreman of West Point, Ga. gave this land in memory of their parents, the late John W. and Clara Smith Tillery.
Plans were drawn for building the retreat in 1964. The Halawaka Spiritual Retreat Center, Inc. was in charge of the programming, operation, and management of the Non-Denominational Center. The building was never started, apparently due to a lack of funds. In 1967, eight years after the idea was conceived, the cross was erected. The cross was twenty-four feet tall and twelve feet wide. For many years thereafter say Beulah natives, the cross served as a beacon for the native traveler and the curious vacationer alike.
The familiar landmark on Lee County Road 87, now Lee Road 379, was seen for several miles by motorist and those in boats on Lake Harding. The cross even had deep religious significance with stories of mystery lightings abounding connected with death, miraculous recovery, and other spiritual events. The light of the cross was eventually extinguished by vandals, lack of attention, and deterioration over time.
In 1997 a group, which called themselves the Lake Harding Cross Committee, took the cross down and had it restored and in 1999 the cross was placed back in its original site and lit. For several years the cross was a shining beacon again only to be destroyed by a storm 2001.
For the next several years the location where the cross stood was a landscape of trees. After long negotiations with the new land owner and a fund raising project collecting approximately $16,000.00 a new cross the same size as the original was built and erected in 2005 in a site 50 yards from the original location. The cross sits on a 50 foot high pole standing 74 feet to the top.
Many hours of donated labor, materials, contributions from local residents and families of those who began this project along with corporate sponsors have restored the landscape as it is today with our cross standing stronger and taller as it overlooks Lake Harding.
Special Mentions and Gratitude to the following: Hosea and Ricky Bess with Bess and Son’s Crane Rental, Beulah Baptist Church, Tom Lanier, ITC Family of Companies, Interstate Valley Telephone Company, Knology, Powertel, Deltacom, Intercall, and ITC Holding Company, Lake Harding Association, Robert Teasley with Signs Inc., Joel Slocumb, Gene Smith, Wayne Taft of W.T. Construction, Tadlock Sign Co., and Stan Zenisek. A special thanks to all who gave personal donations to this Project.
Tax Deductible Donations for up keep and to maintain power for the cross can be made to:
Beulah Baptist Church, 5500 Lee Road 270, Valley, AL, 36854, ATTN: Cross Fund