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Pattern on log inspires faithful

A tree cut at an Escondido church contains an image that some say resembles a cross or an angel. It is creating a nationwide stir.

November 24, 2011|By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
  • Salvador Maya and Jim Rants, owner of Star Landscape Maintenance, display the cross pattern in the stump of a pine tree at 1st Congregational Church in Escondido.
Salvador Maya and Jim Rants, owner of Star Landscape Maintenance, display… (Jim Rants )

Reporting from San Diego -- A tree cut down at an Escondido church is causing a stir among the faithful after some people reporting seeing the shape of a cross or angel inside its trunk.

Landscapers made the discovery on Monday while removing pine trees on the property of the 1st Congregational Church of Escondido. One of the workers, Salvador Maya, was the first to see the image — apparently formed in part by tree sap — and alerted his boss.

"Salvador yelled at me, 'Look at this, it's a cross, something sacred!'" said Jim Rants, owner of Star Landscape Maintenance. "So I looked at it and thought 'Holy-moly, we've got something here. It's just amazing, and to be on church property, it's definitely something divine."

Rants reported the finding to the church pastor.

News coverage and Twitter postings quickly followed. By Wednesday, television stations and newspapers from San Diego and Tijuana, and radio stations from Texas and North Carolina, had checked in.

That the discovery was made during the week of the Thanksgiving holiday only added to the excitement.

"It's been phenomenal," Debbie Cummings, the church's office manager, said of the response. "To people of faith, it's very comforting to see something. Of course some people say they see nothing, but there are always skeptics."

People have called the church asking to buy the stump, Cummings said.

Pastor Phil Corr said he plans to discuss the wood cut, which is safely stored in the church sanctuary, during his Sunday sermon titled "The Joy of Surprise." He also will display the log and talk about what the church plans to do with it.

"People of faith have eyes to see this, but skeptics do not," Corr said.

The rest of the wood from the downed trees is being chopped into firewood. Some pieces may also be given to attendees at the Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings held at the church, officials said.

"This church has a lot of outreach to the community, and now it has more," Cummings said.

tony.perry@latimes.com

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