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Ben Rodgers, Forum Communications Co., Published March 08 2010

Cross maker 'doing the Lord's work'

SPIRITWOOD, N.D. – Edward Schlosser farmed the land here for more than 30 years. His woodworking hobby has also lasted more than 30 years, with results hanging around the world.

Schlosser has created more than 2,000 wooden crosses. The majority are about 18 inches high, but some are up to 14 feet tall.

The hobby that would eventually consume much of his retirement when he stopped farming in 1989 started in 1966.

Kensal, his hometown, opened a new Methodist church, he said. His father was asked to make a cross for inside the church.

His father told the church members to go ask his son, Ed, to do the job, and three tries later the church had its cross, Schlosser said.

The 14-foot-tall and 7-foot-wide cross he made still hangs in that church in Kensal – and for Schlosser it was the start of a new hobby.

When then-pastor Harold Boardman retired in 1967, Schlosser made him a cross he could hold in his hand, he said. From then on he spent his free time making similar crosses out of black walnut and oak for gifts for relatives and friends.

Schlosser’s crosses were always something he gave away until he realized his work could be sold and he could raise money for his church, First United Methodist Church in Jamestown.

“That’s the kind of commitment he’d shown,” said the Rev. Kenrad Pederson, pastor at First United.

Schlosser received a truckload of oak flooring when the church remodeled in 1996. Schlosser turned the flooring into crosses and sold them for $25 and $30.

“We sold 106 of them in 10 days,” Schlosser said. He raised $4,500 for the church.

He also made crosses for chapels and churches in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Florida after taking vacations or meeting with out-of-state relatives.

“I’ve got crosses in pretty much every state in the union, I think,” Schlosser said.

In addition to making crosses for churches, he has given away countless others and had others distributed in foreign countries by his son, Paul Schlosser, on mission trips.

He said Paul has given them away in Latin America and some have been given to people from Australia, Europe and Africa.

Schlosser gets most of his wood for the crosses from friends who have extra to spare. He has also gotten wood from harvested trees and has piles of it in his workshop and garage, he said.

“I’m doing the Lord’s work, I feel, and I don’t know what else I can do,” Schlosser said.

Rodgers is a writer for The Jamestown Sun, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.