Area cross walks to take place this week

Sunday, April 1, 2012
The Way of the Cross procession came north along Water Street on Good Friday, March 21, 2008, through downtown Cape Girardeau. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

Cross walks, which usually involve the offering of a prayer and meditation at a series of locations of significance within a city, are a well-known way that Christians of all denominations to remember Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Two cross walks will be held locally this week on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter.

The Way of the Cross, an event organized by a downtown Cape Girardeau church council, will begin at noon at the Common Pleas courtyard on Lorimier Street.

Al Mitchener supports the cross during one of the stations of the Way of the Cross event on April 22, 2011, at Old St. Vincent's Church in Cape Girardeau. Although the weather forced the event to remain indoors, participants still journeyed through 14 stations within the church, pausing to pray and sing. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

"This is our 12th year for the cross walk," said the Rev. Bob Towner of Christ Episcopal Church in Cape Girardeau. "When the Downtown Council of Churches in Cape Girardeau was founded in 2001, pastors sought to find a way that Christians from all backgrounds could come together and worship and witness. We chose Good Friday at noon and decided on a devotional parade, following the Way of the Cross."

At 12:15 p.m., the walk will progress west on Broadway to Pacific Street and then head east on Independence Street, returning to the Common Pleas courtyard.

"We've shortened the length of the walk by about half making it about 1.2 miles, and we are avoiding steep hills to make it more accessible for everyone," Towner said.

Fourteen stations in the downtown area will be stopping points for Scripture reading and prayer with several locations designated as stops for singing well-known devotional songs as well.

"Some of the Scripture readings will be done by people who participate in the cross walk while others will be read by employees of the locations where we stop," Towner said.

Various people then spontaneously step up to carry a full-size cross from station to station.

Stan Hargis, chaplain at Southeast Hospice, has helped organize the annual cross walk for the last 10 years.

Catherine Moreton held a large wooden cross in the middle of Main Street on the third stop of the Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, March 21, 2008.

"I really like the ecumenical nature of the walk, and I am glad to see such a public display of faith on such a significant day within the Christian calendar," Hargis said. "I also love that the event is held outside, weather permitting."

Ample parking is available within a block of the walk's starting point at the Common Pleas Courthouse and a large van and a small bus will be available to provide relief to walkers. Water bottles will also be available.

In the event of rain, which has occurred twice in the 11 years that the walk has been held, the event will be moved to Old St. Vincent's Church on Spanish Street.

"Since the route has been shortened, the walk should take about one-and-a-half hours to complete," Towner said. "With the route being easy to find up Broadway and down Independence, we encourage people to come for even part of it if they can't participate in the entire walk."

Seventy-five to 200 people per year have participated in the annual cross walk, which is nondenominational.

Pam Acker, left, and Steven Watkins displayed a wooden cross May 21, 2008, in front of the KFVS12 building on Broadway in Cape Girardeau, the sixth stop on the Way of the Cross walk.

"Our goal is to draw Christians who love Jesus together and lift him up in praise," Towner said.

Another group, known as Carry the Cross, is working to mobilize thousands of Christians to create the largest human cross in the world. Their goal is to have 3,000 full-size crosses, one every quarter-mile, held by Christians for minutes or hours along U.S. 60 and 63 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Good Friday.

"We are wanting the human cross to reach from Illinois to Oklahoma, and from Arkansas to Iowa," said David Craig of Sikeston, Mo., one of the event organizers.

While events such as parades have been held in several cities in the past, this will be the group's first attempt to do something on such a large scale.

"Our only purpose is to lift up Jesus Christ," Craig said. "We are an interdenominational group that is not affiliated with any one church."

For more information on the Way of the Cross event, call Towner at 335-2997. For more information or to register for the Carry the Cross event, go to www.carrythecrossnow.com or the group's Facebook page.

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