Bluegrass is a long way from the Mount Sinai of the Bible, but now each is notable for its Ten Commandments. Instead of two stone tablets emblazoned with God's law, however, Jim and Eunice Mell resurrected a large field stone as a public display ...
Bluegrass is a long way from the Mount Sinai of the Bible, but now each is notable for its Ten Commandments.
Instead of two stone tablets emblazoned with God's law, however, Jim and Eunice Mell resurrected a large field stone as a public display for the sacred statutes on County State Aid Highway 23.
"We ... thought maybe we should do something and try and get it out there," Jim said.
Controversy over the display of the Ten Commandments on government property has led to monuments being taken out of some public places.
Having the Ten Commandments visible means a lot to him, Jim said. A large stone laying in a field he bought nearly a decade ago inspired him to create the monument that was finished this fall.
In February 2006, Don Meech, a neighbor, moved the rock to a more conspicuous location than the field it had been dug up from years ago. It is right next to the home of Jim's mother and her husband, Herb Hennagir.
Jim originally intended to have the Commandments engraved directly on the rock, he said, but that didn't work out. He hired Syverson Tile & Stone in Fargo to engrave them on a 500-pound granite slab.
The Mells had to enlist the help of their Bluegrass neighbors to put up the quarter-ton monument. Steve Erickson furnished tools to drill holes in the rock. They had to have brackets made to mount the granite on the rock. They also had to pour concrete underneath the field rock because it had tipped a little during the nearly two years it waited to be turned into a monument.
Hennagir, Bruce and Barb Brown, Duane Kern and Ray Cochran all helped with the installation.
"It took a lot of heft to move that big piece of granite," Eunice said.
Installation was complete on Sept. 23, Eunice's birthday.
The engraving turned out beautifully, she said.
"Once they put it on the dark granite it's so much more visible," Eunice said about the inscription.
Jim hopes the rock inspires other Christians to stand up for keeping the Ten Commandments displayed in public places.
The monument gives Jim a way to share his beliefs. He doesn't like to speak in front of people, he said.
"So many people can get up in front of church and give their testimony," he said. "This is kind of my testimony."
The Ten Commandments is just north of the Mells' church, Bethany Free Lutheran in Bluegrass.
"Our church has done so much for us over the years, done so much for our
families," Jim said. "It's kind of nice to put a little bit back."
Eunice added, "God's been good."
Jim has worked for Mason Brothers for nearly 34 years, he said. Eunice has worked at Fair Oaks Lodge for about 25 years. They also have a shooting preserve on their farm and raise German short-haired dogs.
Jim hopes the Ten Commandments rock brightens someone's day, he said.
"I always figured if it helped one person ... when they drive by, and changes their life or helps them make a better decision for that one day, it's worth it," he said.
While the rock features a series of commands saying "Thou shalt not," the Mells encourage people to ignore the signs nearby indicating no trespassing. Jim said the signs are intended for the shooting preserve.
"If anybody wants to stop ... they're sure welcome," Jim said. "It's open to the public."
People were already stopping long before the Ten Commandments was mounted, he said. They took pictures with the rock and the cross, which were erected in early 2006.
The Mells are planning to add two more similar-sized rocks in the spring, they said. The rocks will come from family who work on the oil fields in North Dakota. They plan to mount an engraving of John 3:16 on one rock, Jim said. They haven't decided yet what will go on the other rock. They also plan to landscape around the monuments.
The Ten Commandments was a little more spendy than they originally figured, Jim said, but it was worth it.
"It's something that'll be there after we're gone," he said.
The monument is pretty self explanatory, he said.
"It just kind of speaks for itself," Jim said. "That's why it's there."