The Old Rugged Cross Foundation, Inc. was formed for the purpose of saving and restoring the old church where the hymn made its public debut, and preserving the history of the hymn and its author. Once restored as closely as possible to its 1913 appearance, the church will serve as a museum, preserving the history of the hymn and the community. The museum will be useful for historical research and the sanctuary will be available to rent for weddings and special services.

The Old Rugged Cross Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 41, Niles, MI 49120

Contact Information:
Telephone:   1-269-683-4540
FAX:   1-269-683-4315

Contact us at:
P.O. Box 41, Niles, MI 49120  (Mailing Address)
269-683-4540; 269-362-4347 (Cell Phone)

Visit us (by appointment) at:
61041 Vermont St., Pokagon, MI 49047 (Physical Address)

Electronic mail:
General Info:

Website problems:

Board of Directors:

Chairman of the Board,
Dr. Melchizedek M. Ponniah
Dr. Ponniah is the coordinator of the Graduate Program and a Professor in the Andrews University Department of Communication (Berrien Springs, Mich.). He also chairs the commission to develop a new campus television station for Andrews University. He has taught at Southwestern Michigan College, served as Vice President of Adventist World Aviation in Berrien Springs, and has extensive fund raising experience. He and his family are members of the Pioneer Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church on the Andrews University campus. Dr. Ponniah’s grandfather converted to Christianity (from Hinduism) in the early 1900s after hearing “The Old Rugged Cross” sung at a revival meeting in Tamil Nadu, India. His grandfather was consequently disowned by his father, a Hindu priest, but Dr. Ponniah is a Christian today because of this hymn.

President, Robert N. Shaffer
Mr. Shaffer (Bob) served 2 years in the Army National Guard and 4 years in the Air Force before attending and graduating from Lake Michigan College. He retired after 31 years in management with Sears and, more recently, he retired from a career in real estate to devote his full attention to The Old Rugged Cross restoration effort. He is active in local government as a Trustee on the Pokagon Township Board, and Chairman and Secretary of the Pokagon Township Cemetery Board. He has also served on theTownship zoning board of appeals. Bob is a Trustee and active member of the Pokagon United Methodist Church, which began as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon in the building that is now The Old Rugged Cross Church. Bob and his wife, Molly, purchased the deteriorated church/barn, now called The Original Old Rugged Cross Church, from a private owner in 1998, and formed the non-denominational Old Rugged Cross Foundation, Inc. for the purpose of restoring it and preserving its history. Bob has worked as a volunteer laborer on each phase of the restoration for the past 15 years, and serves as Project Director.

Secretary, Barbara Wood Cook
Mrs. Cook’s career has included more than three decades in business education at the secondary and community college level. She served as Pokagon Township Supervisor for ten years and was secretary of the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) for 26 years. She continues to serve on the SMC Museum Advisory Board, the Cass County Historical Commission, is secretary of the U. S. 12 Heritage Trail Council, Treasurer of Support the Fort (Fort St. Joseph in Niles, Mich.), Vice Chair of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Committee, Vice Chair of MEANDRS (Meeting the Ecological and Agricultural Needs in the Dowagiac River System) project, and Chair of the Cass County Planning Commission. Barbara is also a member of the Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and has raised, trained and shown Arabian horses for many years. Her gg grandparents were founders of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon (now The Original Old Rugged Cross Church). She and her late husband Grafton, who was also a charter ORCF board member, researched and wrote local histories, produced a video tape of the history of Pokagon Township, and have given many oral presentations on various topics of local and national historic interest.

Mary (Molly) Tate Shaffer
Mrs. Shaffer is retired from a career in corporate management and industrial sales. She is an active member of the Pokagon United Methodist Church, serving as chair of the Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee and past president of the United Methodist Women. She is a member of the Kalamazoo District Leadership Training Team, the Kalamazoo District Evangelism Committee, and a voting lay member-at-large of the West Michigan Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is a member of, and has held many offices, including treasurer and Vice Regent, in the Schuyler Colfax Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in South Bend, Indiana, and has served as a director on that board. She has also served on the board of the Key Colony Beach Community Association in Florida, and actively participates in a music ministry both in Michigan and in Florida. She and her husband Bob purchased the historic Old Rugged Cross church in 1998 for the purpose of saving it from imminent collapse, and restoring it to its previous church era appearance. They created and incorporated the ORCF for that purpose. In addition to serving as the foundation’s treasurer, Molly devotes the majority of her time to fund-raising and giving tours and presentations to various churches and civic groups, promoting The Old Rugged Cross restoration project. She is currently writing a book on The Old Rugged Cross, which will include stories related to the restoration efforts.

Assistant Treasurer,
Kevin Young
Kevin is currently employed as Administrative Office Manager and Bookkeeper of Shelton’s Farm Market in Niles, Mich., and serves as Treasurer of Pokagon Township since 2004. He is a member of the Morris Chapel UMC, serving as their treasurer since the mid 1990’s, part time pianist, and co-custodian. He is also a member of Morris Chapel’s Pastor/Staff Parrish Relations Committee. He has been a member of the Community Grange #1675 in Sumnerville, Mich. since 1987, holding numerous offices and currently serving as President. He has also held several offices with the Mich. State Grange, including Vice President, Treasurer and fund Raising Chairman, and has served on the Mich. State Grange Foundation Board. Kevin is Advisor to the Berrien County (Mich,) Youth Fair Board, is a member of the Finance Committee, the Livestock Auction Committee, and volunteers in the Cash Office during the week of the fair. Kevin joined the ORCF board in 2010 and currently assists the treasurer in the record keeping for the ORCF.

Director, Dan Stuglik
Dan is the director of Crystal Springs Camp and Retreat Center. Crystal Springs, located around the corner from the ORCC, opened in 1860 and is said to be the second oldest Methodist Camp in the nation.

Dan has served as a community police officer in nearby Coloma Township since 2009 and served as a community police officer/ school resource officer for the city of Benton Harbor prior to that. Dan was a member of the West Michigan Crime Prevention Association from 2006-2010 and served as the organization’s president in 2008.

Dan has attended Pokagon United Methodist Church since childhood. He’s had a lifelong interest in the restoration and preservation of the ORC Church that began when his school bus passed the once dilapidated building in the early 1990’s. Dan and his wife Ashley look forward to the opportunity to be stewards of a piece of history.