This is old news, but like they say about television reruns, "it's new to you if you haven't seen it before."
Four years after Rev. Jess Jackson and eight members of Westwood Hill Baptist Church in Kempsville, Virginia, destroyed the church's memorial garden dedicated to Brother Arthur S. Ward, a deceased co-founder of their church, a formal apology was given in open court, and the Bro. Ward's family dropped their lawsuit against the church for breach of trust and inflicting emotional distress. The family never wanted the church's money; they wanted to clear the good name of their father and husband.
Jackson, two associate pastors and six members burned, uprooted and tore apart the flowering memorial garden in 1996 because of Arthur Ward's Masonic ties and the garden's alledged occult symbols and evil influence.
In 2000, their attorney issued this apology in court, after which the family dropped the case:
"They offer you both an unequivocal apology for the hurt they have caused you and your family, and to the memory of your husband, who was a founding member of Westwood Hill Baptist Church, at all times in good standing, and who was recognized by all who knew him to be a good and honorable man."
According to a news report, the church members said cobblestones and a cross entwined with roses were arranged to resemble "occultic symbols" used by the Masons.
After destroying what they could and hauling away the rest, these men "reconsecrated" the site by sprinkling holy water on the ground.
Pastor Jackson and other Westwood Hill congregants involved in razing the garden declined to comment. Instead, Jackson released a joint statement: "The defendants and leadership of Westwood Hill rejoice that we have been able to resolve this matter without the trauma of a civil trial regarding what we believe was a church matter. This has been a painful four years for all involved. Our sincere heart's desire is for personal reconciliation among all parties involved."
Reported in July 20, 2000 Virginian-Pilot, and at the Masonic Information Center website in Sept. 2000
The story is explored more fully in "Is it True what They Say about Freemasonry?"
The rose and cross image above was originally the publication trademark of Martin Luther, the founder of Protestant Christianity. The symbol today is used as the symbol of the Lutheran Church. The Rose and Cross are used in many other ways as well — two well-known examples are the its use by the Rosicrucians and the Masonic Scottish Rite. The Masonic Rite of the Rose Cross uses the word "rose," but not a graphic of a rose, in their logo. Some date the combined symbol back to the Knights Templar. The cross as a symbol pre-dates Christianity, and the Rose has long symbolized the Divine Female.
But sometimes, as in the memorial garden desecration incident discussed above, a rose is just a rose and a cross is just a cross.
Southern Baptists | Freemasonry | Religion | Westwood Hill Baptist Church | Small Town Intolerance | Rev. Jess Jackson | Southern Baptist Convention | Occult Symbols | Vandalism