Others keeping Coffindaffer
By Noll Luter Floyd
Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer
The late Bernard Coffindaffer of Craigsville, W.V., left a legacy of crosses when he died in 1993. He led a one-man crusade that erected 1,864 sets of three crosses in at least 27 states, the District of Columbia, Zambia and the Philippines. "I think there are even more," said Sara Abraham of Vicksburg, who is helping revive the ministry Coffindaffer began in 1984 and devoted the last nine years of his life to. "The difficulty is all the records were written in handwriting on yellow legal pads. The handwriting is not always clear, and some of it has faded."
A businessman who became a self-proclaimed Methodist minister, Coffindaffer was the subject of a PBS documentary and a segment on CBS Sunday Moming. "At one point, he had five different crews working, and each crew had three men," said Sharon Clendenin of Craigsville, W.V., who was Coffindaffer's secretary from 1986 until his death. Coffmdaffer, who made a fortune in the coal-washing business, paid for the crosses. Property owners gave permission for the crosses to be planted on their land.
The existing crosses are made of California Douglas fir. The center cross stands 25 feet tall, and the other two are 20 feet tall. The center cross is painted gold, the color of royalty, . the other two, blue, to represent the earth. Each set cost about $850-$900 when erected, and each was blessed after it was built dung a consecration service, Abraham said.
Coffindaffer would be pleased to know his ministry is still alive, said Clendenin, who still receives an occasional piece of mail concerning Coffindaffer. "He wanted it to continue," she said.