Sackrider Hill has been a favorite “secret” hideaway for thousands of Michiganders. Many of us feel it's “secret” because whenever we go there, we're usually the only ones around...but countless visitors have walked the hill and the trail for many decades. There are thick woods there now, but before all those trees grew, kids and adults used to go there tobogganing, sledding, and skiing. The hill's elevation is 1,128 feet - the tallest hill in the Waterloo Recreation Area.

The hill was named after Christian and Jane Sackrider who came here from New England in the 1840s. They bought 160 acres of farmland and made a good living.

Easter Sundays became special with Sunrise Services being held at the top of the hill. Beginning in the 1930s – before a permanent cross was placed – a cross was carried up to the top on Good Friday and after Sunday services, it was taken back down. It was decided to install a permanent cross on the hilltop in 1950.

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For decades the cross stood at the top of the hill, weathering the elements, surprising newcomers, and welcoming all. I remember a few years ago walking up to the top of the hill in order to show a newcomer this big cross on the hill.....and it was gone. I made a few incredulous – maybe explicit – remarks, shrugged, shook my head, and proceeded to walk the trails. I never knew if this person believed me or not.

So where did the Sackrider Hill cross disappear to? Why was it taken down?

As mentioned in a Stockbridge Community News article, in March 2018 a resident filed a complaint to the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, claiming the cross was violating the separation of church and state. In response, the group requested removal of the cross, claiming it “violated the First Amendment and Article 1, Section 4 of the Michigan Constitution”.

Grassroots Jackson organized a petition to save the cross and garnered around 3,000 signatures. Combining forces, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Grass Lake Ministerial Association, and Grassroots Jackson came up with a solution to hopefully please everyone: they found a new home for the cross.

Fox 47 reports the cross was taken down from Sackrider Hill on May 14. On May 29 it was erected at its new home, 6288 Mt. Hope Rd, between the Crusade for Christ Ministries and the old one-room schoolhouse, a mile and a half north of Sackrider. Those who still trek up Sackrider notice with sentiment the empty plot where the cross once stood. It will always be a reminder.

Easter Sunday Services are still welcomed to be held on Sackrider Hill....(but only if churches file for a permit and bring their own cross).

THE SACKRIDER HILL CROSS

 

 

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