Community plans to gather for Good Friday walk in Cape

Thursday, April 17, 2003

When area residents gather for the Way of the Cross walk through downtown Cape Girardeau Friday, they will be remembering Jesus Christ's death and renewing their commitment to faith, event organizers said.

The walk lets people reconnect with "Jesus' great acts of love," said Bob Towner, rector at Christ Episcopal Church.

Two of Jesus' acts and instructions to his disciples will be remembered today during Maundy Thursday services in area churches. The word "maundy" comes from the command Jesus gave to love one another.

Christians commemorate Maundy Thursday as the night of Jesus' last meal with his disciples, in which he instructed them about communion and washed their feet. Both of those commandments will be observed in many churches.

At the close of the Maundy Thursday service, Catholic churches will strip the altar of any adornments or objects used in Mass. The Episcopal church often covers its altars with dark cloth.

Jews will observe the day as Passover, the night of the Seder meal.

Walk to remember

All of these events from Jesus' last supper to his betrayal and crucifixion are remembered in the Way of the Cross, a walk based on the Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross was first practiced by crusaders in Jerusalem, where the cruxificion occurred, as a way of remembering Jesus' last hours on earth. But the practice quickly spread among Christians who couldn't go to the holy sites.

Some Catholic churches illustrate the stations through paintings or statues.

"To walk where Jesus walked is powerful," Towner said.

The Good Friday walk in Cape Girardeau, like others happening across the world, "is our attempt to reconnect with the risen Jesus Christ," he said.

The walk will begin at 12:15 p.m. at Old St. Vincent's Church at the corner of Main and William streets. Because of road construction on William, visitors are asked to use the parking lot entrance of Spanish Street.

The stations help people gain a better understanding of the last events in Christ's life. At each of the 14 stops, a local pastor or church representative will read Scripture and offer a prayer.

It's a powerful image to see a person carrying the cross, and particularly resonates with youth, Towner said.

More than 15 different churches are participating in the event. Several churches will be open as comfort stations along the way. A church van is available for people who cannot complete the entire route. The walk takes about two hours to complete.

Towner likes that the walk lets people "meet Jesus" much like they would have during the first century -- in the town square.

"It's exciting that we could meet him on our own city streets," Towner said.

Before deciding what locations to include on the walk, Towner and pastor Mike Woelk of Livingway Foursquare Church walked the streets and prayed.

"We tried to find places that we believe the Spirit led us to," Woelk said. In some cases, that means praying for specific issues that could be associated with a place.

At the Red House, the first stop on the route, the prayers will be for the purpose of the city. The Red House symbolizes the place where Cape Girardeau got its start as a community. Woelk said God must have created the founding of the city for a purpose -- one that has yet to be fulfilled.

"We are attempting to address the most important issues for our city and region," Woelk said.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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