“Touchdown Jesus” Is Coming Back–This Time As “Hug Me Jesus”! UPDATED

Driving north along I-75, you couldn’t miss him:  Jesus, arms upstretched, praying to the Father.  The 62-foot-high, 40-foot-wide landmark—officially called “King of Kings” but affectionately dubbed “Touchdown Jesus” by local drivers—was erected in 2004 by Solid Rock Church, a 4,000-member evangelical church in Monroe, Ohio.  And for six years, the butter-colored statue was a silent witness to faith, a call to prayer.

Then on June 15, 2010, during a fierce electrical storm, Touchdown Jesus was struck by lightning and in a dramatic blaze that lit the night sky, the $300,000 statue burned to the ground.  Damage to the adjacent amphitheatre was estimated at an additional $400,000.  Fish in the surrounding reflection pond died as fiberglass and burning foam fell into the water, leaving only the steel frame stretching heavenward.

“Touchdown Jesus” is about to rise again, though—although this time, his resurrected form has been titled “Lux Mundi,”, from the Latin for “Light of the World.”  He’s a more traditional Jesus with arms outstretched; and already the blogosphere has given him the affectionate nickname “Hug Me Jesus.”   

Touchdown Jesus – before the fire

The new statue has been engineered to fit the existing steel frame and concrete base, but will stand only 52 feet, as compared to the 62-foot original.  Display Dynamics Inc., the company which is constructing the work, is using molded foam on a framework of round and square steel tubing, which will be bolted to the existing frame.  This time, the statue will be the color of concrete; and in the factory where its seven bulky pieces lie sprawled across the warehouse floor, workers are spray-painting it with a grey polymer that contains tiny terra cotta specs, matched to the church’s roof.

The statue will rise again beginning in September, when six flatbed trucks will transport the five-ton statue to its final assembly point.  It’s expected that the on-site construction will take two to three weeks; but then Jesus will once again rise beside the freeway, embracing weary truckers and vacationing families alike.


UPDATE:  I just had to show you.  Driving north from South Carolina this week, we passed the new “Hug Me Jesus”–and this time, I knew it was coming and I had my camera ready.  Now granted, I was in a vehicle skimming the freeway at 70 miles per hour.  So you don’t get a professional portrait–but here He is, outstretched arms beckoning northbound truckers and tourists on I-75 near Monroe, Ohio!

  • Susan D.

    I’ve never heard of this statue–I always thought that “Touchdown Jesus” was the mosaic on the side of the Hesburgh Library at Notre Dame!

    • Kathy Schiffer

      It was also the informal name for a statue of the Sacred Heart at University of Detroit Mercy. Not so original a title, I guess!

  • Cincinnatian

    The location of this statue and church is Monroe, Ohio, not Monroe, Michigan. It is just north of Cincinnati.

  • joannemcportland

    Geography’s just a bit off, Kathy. The once-and-future Big Butter Jesus, as we lovingly refer to him (playing off the Ohio State Fair’s Big Butter Cow, sculpted annually from the dairy product the formed Styrofoam resembles), rose/will rise from the reflecting pond at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, OH, just about halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati. That’s a good ways from the Michigan border. But we can’t wait to see how this new incarnation will be PhotoShopped: the old statue’s upraised arms were great for holding basketballs, beach balls, sportfish, 20-foot-long hotdogs, and the like. We’re all waiting to see who’s going to be the first celebrity slipped into Jesus’ embrace.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Thanks to both of you who gave me the much-needed geography lesson! I should have known, since I’ve driven that way often. (Hey, folks– that’s Monroe, OHIO!)

  • Emily

    You have your facts wrong. The church is in Monroe, OH at Solid Rock Church, about 70 miles north of Cincinnati.

  • Kris

    If Jesus was attending Solid Rock Church (in Monroe, Ohio) and he was given the choice of either having a statue of himself that is costing millions, or to use the money to feed, cloth, and house those that need it, which one do you think he would choose? I have NO doubt it would not be a statue.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Well, I see your point, Kris. But do you remember the story in the Gospels about the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, then wiped them with her hair? The apostles criticized her, using the same logic. Jesus silenced them.

      It’s not really “millions” that it will cost– The original, which was destroyed, had a value of $300,000, so the replacement– which is covered by insurance– is probably in the same range. I don’t know Solid Rock Church personally, but I assume they help the poor AND they offer this great tribute to Christ. As Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you.”

  • Veit Parker

    The company responsible for all engineering, fabrication, and installation is Display Dynamics, Inc. located in Clayton, Ohio, not New Jersey.

  • Christine~Soccer Mom

    I’d heard of this as “Butter Jesus,” too. My husband drove past it on a business trip once.

  • King Solomon

    I am the Son of God. I am absolutely appalled the you make a mockery out of My name by posting statues like this. Unfortunately, i am not a “hug me” type of guy after growing up in america. You sheep serve a wicked shepherd, and you really believe I am going to hug those who allow evil to prevail?
    How many of you are actually able to sleep at night knowing that the poor in this nation are starving of death? What about the ones in the winter who freeze to death? Hmm? You think these “donations” you fool yourselves into thinking is “righteous” is going to make a difference? No, you really are ignorant. And you will not be entering the Kingdom of Heaven. It is time for you to hear your shepherd calling. Please contact me if you want me to offer you salvation. Unfortunately, no american, at this current time, is entering the Kingdom of Heaven. You are being sent to Allah’s Hell! Yeah, what’s that? You believe in the story of Jesus Christ, but you are too egotistical to believe that Allah is real? Yeah, as your parents who died before you are finding out, God is NOT this merciful and loving entity that you seem to think He is. No, God is the most Wrathful entity ever known to Humankind. Have you seriously missed the part in the Bible where God destroyed the world with a flood? Or destroyed two cities? Or killed the children of Egypt? You sheep will be in for a rude awakening if you continue to serve a wicked shepherd. But ya’all need “proof” if I’m Jesus Christ. Well, it’s called faith. Judge me not on the “proof” I can offer you, but rather, judge me on the merits of my arguments. The Bible makes it clear that God is a Wrathful God. And this country is the most wicked nation on the face of this planet, and you all allow it to exist. There is no reason for ANYONE in your streets to be poor. Isn’t this the richest nation on earth? Yeah, you really are all ignorant. And do not beg to me when I am the one sending you to Hell. I am just following the Law of God. Fools, you are all fools. And, I am also King Solomon, so I suggest you re-read the Book of Ecclesiastes.

  • Paul

    This is the real Jesus. Fear him because he is God and heaven and hell are real.
    Not very long and we will see this happen before our very eyes. Which side will you be on?

    Revelation Chapter 19
    11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and whe will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

    17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 dto eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the word that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and mall the birds were gorged with their flesh.

  • Dale

    As near as I can tell, an agreement between the sculptor and the church stipulated that the cost not be made public. I suppose this was to avoid the sort of criticism made by Kris.

    I think there is something to said for an inspirational statue which draws people to Christ, and thus encourage them to love their neighbors as themselves. The ongoing charity of the converted could exceed the one-time donation of the cost of the statue, especially if you consider the multiplier effect of families who are still raising children.

  • Billy

    This is my song, Touchdown Jesus, Hug Me Jesus! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7EkojDHW58

    • Catherine Kuehl

      Catchy rhythm! That just made my day ;)

  • Catherine Kuehl

    The old statue was sometimes called MC 62-foot Jesus (from the band mC 900 ft Jesus).