Story of the Charred Cross


Directed, Edited, and Produced by Malik Gillani & Jamil Khoury

Sacred Stages: A Church, A Theatre, and A Story ... more »

The “charred Cross” referred to in the documentary film was first a lasting reminder of the KKK’s frightful visit to the lawn of Tougaloo College Chaplain Ed King. But it also became a dramatic symbol of a divided church, which accompanied TC college students to the 1964 General Conference of the Methodist Church. That spring, this mainline Protestant denomination gathered for its quadrennial meeting to decide church law and practice. In 1964 “desegregating the denomination top down” was clearly on the agenda, ending a separate central jurisdiction for African Americans. White pastors from Chicago (Gerald Forshey, Martin Deppe and Jim Reid), who were among the driving voices for desegregation, invited the Tougaloo students to join them in their crusade. At the end of the conference that created a plan of merger that would integrate the church, the college students left the charred cross with Pastor Forshey. He and Deppe wrapped the cross in paper and returned to Chicago. Once home Forshey turned to his artist friend John Kearney, an urban sculptor. Kearney not only epoxied the cross for preservation, but created a human figure to hang on it, a Black Jesus. For 45 years it was a part of the private collection of Forshey and his wife, Florence. Periodically, it was shared with local congregations for display. In October, 2008, on the occasion of the Chicago Temple’s 175th Anniversary, it was permanently gifted to the Chicago Temple for public viewing. In the Forshey’s minds it belonged to the church, a powerful symbol of the struggle all had suffered for its full inclusion of the body of Christ, the church on earth.

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Directed, Edited, and Produced by
Malik Gillani & Jamil Khoury

Digital Imaging Technician
Deann Baker

Directors of Photography
Stephen Combs
Deann Baker

Script Consultant
Jon Steinhagen

Production Managers
Caitlin Duerinck
Corey Pond

Music Composer
Peter J .Storms