Way of the Cross

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nearly every Good Friday since 2001, Jan Rigdon has gathered with fellow Christians for a stroll through downtown Cape Girardeau to commemorate Jesus' crucifixion.

This Friday will be no different when Rigdon and about 100 other ministers and lay people are expected to participate in the Way of the Cross, a devotional journey sponsored by the Downtown Council of Churches. Scheduled to begin at 12:15 on the steps of Old St. Vincent's Church, the 2.5-mile event will make stops at 14 sites in Cape Girardeau.

"I find this a more active way to commemorate Good Friday," said Rigdon, who missed the event one time because of inclement weather. "You're able to walk and meditate by yourself or stay up with most of the other people and visit with those of various faith backgrounds.

"And it's neat to commemorate this occasion without the divisions of denominations," she said. "It's something we can all agree on because we're making the effort to show up there."

The Way of the Cross is an adaptation of Christ's journey to the cross through Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was convicted and sentenced to death. Each station on the route is designed to explain what happened to Jesus as he stood trial, carried the wooden cross to Golgotha, died on the hill and was resurrected from a tomb.

The event is an adaptation of the Way of the Cross, which normally takes place in Catholic churches. The Rev. Bob Towner said because the religious experience is a celebration for all denominations it was adjusted accordingly.

"We are able to go outside as a public witness and involve people of all faiths," said Towner, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church. "We may have our differences, but we can all agree that it's important to get together on Good Friday to remember what Jesus did for us. There are other times throughout the year to get together, but this commemorates God's gift to us."

The Rev. Dan Johnson, whose responsibility is coordinating a diverse group of community leaders who will lead prayer and read Scripture, said the event is not only a religious experience but is also an experience of strengthening the community.

"It's important to represent all those groups that strengthen our community," said Johnson, pastor of Evangelical United Church of Christ. "Those churches who are still here in downtown have decided to stay here because they realize their important role in the community."



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