Lakeshore erects 'cross and flame' symbol that once stood at Lambuth University


Students from Wesley Foundation at University of Memphis/Lambuth pose for picture in mid-November in front of "cross and flame" now installed at Lakeshore Camp and Retreat Center in Eva, Tenn. The metal sign previously was located on the Lambuth campus in Jackson, Tenn. Photo by Rev. Steven Fonville

Lakeshore Camp and Retreat Center in Eva, Tenn., installed a large metal cross and flame symbol on its campus Nov. 1. The piece originally came from the grounds of the former Lambuth University and has now found a new home at the retreat center.

The cross and flame has been the symbol of the United Methodist Church since roughly 1968, according to It combines two icons, the cross—symbolizing Christ—and dual tongs of flame—symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

In the early 1990s, Rev. Joe Thornton found the metal symbol in the attic of Epworth Hall on the former Lambuth University campus in Jackson, Tenn. Thornton, who served as the university chaplain, says the piece had once been used at Annual Conference. Then-Conference Council Director Dr. James Holmes said Thornton could keep the cross and erect it at Lambuth.

So, Thornton oversaw its installation near a picturesque pond.

“We finally erected some benches down there so the students could ponder whatever they were pondering and be in the shadow of that great Flame and Cross,” he said.

The symbol, Thornton says, communicates to the world what Methodists stand for, and he is very happy it now stands at Lakeshore.

After Lambuth University became the University of Memphis at Lambuth in 2011, the cross went into storage. Lakeshore Director of Development Bill Walker graduated from Lambuth University and remembered the symbol. After the school’s closing, he obtained permission to take it.

“It is very fitting that the Cross and Flame was installed at Lakeshore,” he says. “We have a lot of Lambuth alumni that come to Lakeshore. I am humbled and honored that this wonderful and beautiful treasure has been brought out of storage and has found a new home at Lakeshore.”

Now, in its new home, Walker says the cross reminds United Methodists that they must spread the love of Christ. It also reminds him personally of God’s love.