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Silhouette of Jesus Returns to Columbus Church

A downtown Columbus church will again feature the silhouette of Jesus familiar to nighttime drivers along the Interstate. A steel cutout that was used to cast the image on the front wall of Livingston United Methodist Church disappeared earlier this month. But the figure was found outside the building Tuesday morning.

Church secretary Jane Runkle says no one knows for sure when the figure was taken. But it had stood on a pedestal in front of the church for nearly 30 years.

"We had wondered if someone had taken it and sold it for scrap metal," Runkle says. "Which someone has said was worth less than $2. But the value to the people here is, you know, there's no amount of money you can put on it."

The figure was erected as a memorial to a boy who was struck by a car while riding his bicycle and killed. The figure is only about 3 feet high. But spotlighted, it casts a giant image of Jesus with his arms reaching out on the front of the church at night.

"To a lot of people it gives them peace. The open arms, you know he's welcoming people here," Runkle says. "We've had a lot of comments from people who have had children at Children's Hospital and they have said how much it has meant to them it's been kind of a calming effect on them seeing it."

"Church member Glen Rogers had already brought new hardware to the church Tuesday afternoon and was reinstalling the piece. This time, he says, it will be locked into place.

"Hopefully when I get done this will be the locking bar so that they won't be able to get him off," Rogers says.

Roger's wife Julie says the figure's nighttime shadow is known not only in Columbus but in other parts of the world. She's delighted she says, that it's been returned.

"Oh I think it's great," says Julie Rogers. "I think it's God's way of telling us we need to be here and we just need to go on."

"And this has just been a blessing to people. We've had letters from people who have just been traveling down the freeway and what it's meant to them. We're always known for it."

"Pastors in the United Methodist Church in Asia knew about this church and the shadow. So it's been a blessing for probably 30 years to this community and all over the world."

"We're just thankful that it's back. Very thankful."