Cross marks the spot in church space mission

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Reverend Martin Whiffen and Brian Darbyshire helped to paint the 'GoogleEarth' Cross at the United Reformed Church, Chorley

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Reverend Martin Whiffen and Brian Darbyshire helped to paint the 'GoogleEarth' Cross at the United Reformed Church, Chorley

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A Chorley church is hoping to make the history books by creating a giant cross that can be seen from SPACE.

Parishioners at the United Reformed Church on Hollinshead Street are placing themselves firmly on the map by painting a 25m high cross on the church’s car park.

It hopes to make it the first organisation on the country to advertise itself on Google Earth.

The group were inspired by a similar, although slightly larger, project by fried chicken giant KFC in 2006, when they put an 87,000 square feet picture of Colonel Sanders in the Nevada desert.

Church minister Rev Martin Whiffen said: “We thought it would be a fun, modern and effective way of advertising the church and, with it, the town.

“A lot of people use Google Earth to help them explore Britain and the huge cross will draw their attention to us and hopefully the work we do.

“It will mean anyone looking at an online view of the region – as well as anyone flying over in a plane or hot-air balloon – will instantly be able to pick out Chorley and the church through the new town landmark.”

Rev Whiffen, 52, donned his overalls and clerical collar to lead the team of volunteers painting the cross on Wednesday.

The white cross design, which measures 25m by 10m, is thought to be the largest painted cross in the country, and the first to be created specifically to be picked up by Google Earth cameras.

Rev Whiffen, who has been at the church since September last year, and took up the role after training as a student there in 1986, said he was excited about making his mark.

He said: “We believe this is the first time this has ever been done in Britain.

“I haven’t seen anything similar in the UK – so we’re making a bit of history too!”