Retired Dakotas pastor crafts crosiers for bishops

July 19, 2016
Four crosiers crafted by Rev. Art Scanson were presented to the four newly elected bishops of the North Central Jurisdiction.

By: Doreen Gosmire, Dakotas Conference

Rev. Art Scanson, a retired elder from the Dakotas Conference, has found a ministry in woodworking that is reaching bishops across The United Methodist Church.

Scanson has handcrafted more than 15 crosiers for bishops in the North Central Jurisdiction and for some bishops in other jurisdictions. A crosier is a stylized staff that's a symbol of the governing office of a bishop.

“I have been making the crosiers for the North Central Jurisdiction since 2000,” he said. “Every bishop that is elected in the North Central Jurisdiction receives one.”

This year, Scanson created four crosiers for the four newly elected bishops of the North Central Jurisdiction: David Bard (from Minnesota), appointed to the Michigan Area; Frank Beard, appointed to Illinois-Great Rivers; Laurie Haller, appointed to Iowa; and Tracy S. Malone, appointed to East Ohio.

In Western Christianity, the crosier (known as the pastoral staff, from the Latin pastor, shepherd) is shaped like a shepherd's crook. A bishop bears this staff as “shepherd of the flock of God.” The crosier is often used when presiding at worship or church meetings.

Strips of oak are laminated together to form each crosier.

“Fourteen strips of oak wood, nine feet long by four inches wide, are glued together to create the long handle or shaft,” said Scanson. Each layer has to be precisely placed and clamped into the jig within 30 minutes. 

Rev. Art Scanson poses with one of the crosiers he created.
The hook is a little more involved. Smaller strips of wood, three inches long, are placed together like a web. One piece fits into another smaller piece in a jig to make the actual hook.

“It takes about 100 hours to make one crosier,” said Scanson. Each of the crosiers come with a base or stand. The base allows the crosier to stand straight wherever it is stationed. 

“I have learned a lot about how to make the crosiers over the years,” said Scanson. “At first, I cut out the shape from a board. I now use the strips and lamination.”

Scanson sews a carrying case for each of the crosiers and also a case for each base. “The carrying case allows for easy travel for wherever the bishops want to use them,” he said.

Different colors of stain are applied to the wood to give each crosier a unique look. Every crosier has four coats of polyurethane.

“Woodworking has always been a hobby for me,” said Scanson. “It became part of my ministry when I was the pastor of a church in Leonard, North Dakota. They didn’t have a cross, so I created one out of wood.”

Each bishop uses his or her crosier in different ways. Some use them as décor in their offices. Others use them at annual conference sessions as symbol of spiritual leadership during worship and business sessions.

“I will continue to do this as long as I am able and for as long as they ask,” said Scanson.

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