The cross above First Baptist Church, Delavan, is once again lit after 20 years thanks to the efforts of church member Carl Baker, who had to locate a company that could order the part needed. Roxanne Kelton said once again, the cross looks like it’s floating in mid-air, just as it did when she was a child. (Heather Ruenz photo)

Hard work, persistence leads to church cross being lit again

By Cathy Kozlowicz


After tirelessly working to locate an obsolete 100-year electrical part, the cross above Delavan’s First Baptist Church is now lit. The light of the cross, that is lit internally and located above the bell tower, broke more than 20 years ago and has not been illuminated again until Jan. 3.

Roxann Kelton, a member for the church for 64 years, a 47-year Sunday school teacher and a church office volunteer, recalls the light looking like it is floating in mid-air, coming down Washington hill and appearing in the tree branches.

“As a child growing up in Delavan, I remember seeing the cross as I came up Washington hill after night events at school. The cross has significance personally and as a congregation member,” she said.

“As a member of the church, the cross represents as group of people who are committed to our mission to worship God, teach, encourage and practice discipleship. As a community member, the cross represents a place where all are welcome,” Kelton added.

Church member Carl Baker, after hearing people saying they miss the light, began digging into why the cross was not lit.

Kelton said there had been attempts for people to go on the roof of the steeple to repair it, but the problem was inside and workers could not get to it by crane.

With the help of another church member, Bonita Sisk, Baker retrieved the electrical part that was not working in the steeple. He took ladders and went up two floors beyond the bell and removed a neon-type control. It had been covered by a screen to keep the pigeons out and since it was an old part, took some investigating to find out if it could be replaced.

Baker first took it to Laser Electric Supply & Lighting Gallery, but they could not match it to any of their products. Baker said he noticed that the part said Jefferson Electric on it. After looking them up, he drove to their Milwaukee office, which turned out to be a Jefferson Electric office building.

Its electrical division was sold to Universal Lighting Technologies in Tennessee and when Baker contacted them, he was told that their electrical division was sold to another company also in Tennessee.

Finally, when he contacted this other company, Baker was told by them it was a very old part, an open core and coil neon light transformer. He was also told he needed to order it through one of their distributors, Midwest Sign & Screen in Milwaukee.

“Midwest said they would need to order the part as they never sold one before,” Baker said.

When he got the part, it was installed in the steeple of the church.

“Prayers were made. Fingers were crossed,” Baker said. And the power was turned on.

“The cross calls again,” he said.

Kelton said that the repair of the cross represents faithful service of Carl Baker and Bonita Sisk, and their efforts to have the church continue to have a visual presence in the community.

First Baptist Church will be having a rededication ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at Phoenix Park in front of the church at 111 E. Wisconsin St.



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