(Leonna Heuring/Standard Democrat)
Set for 7 to 11 a.m. today along U.S. 60 and 63 in Missouri, the Carry the Cross movement aims to raise awareness of Jesus Christ as volunteers stand with 10-foot tall crosses every quarter-mile to make a make one giant cross.
"It's about inviting people out -- whether doctors, lawyers, nurses or teachers -- just wear your everyday clothes, come out and hold up a cross for Jesus," said Alethea Sparkman, main volunteer coordinator for the Sikeston area.
Crosses are slated to be raised in Sikeston, Charleston, Bertrand, Puxico, Dexter, Poplar Bluff, Springfield, Houston, Joplin and Cairo, Ill.
"In Sikeston and along 60, they're doing an incredible job," said Jenny Knoderer, who is coordinating the movement statewide. "We have at least a couple hundred people from Cairo, Ill., to Poplar Bluff and beyond. We are expecting to have people every quarter of a mile."
Sparkman said interest from local communities is good. She estimated about 100 crosses will be raised from Morehouse to Dexter, Sikeston to Bertrand and also near Puxico and Poplar Bluff.
"We want to mobilize and get the word out," Knoderer said. " ... We really want try to create a revival, if you will. Jesus Christ is alive in the community."
The concept is not that Carry the Cross goes into the communities but that people in their own community would hear about the movement and want to participate, Knoderer said.
"When we lift him up, he's going to draw people into him, and that is our goal," Knoderer said. "And that is our hope -- for people to see this and talk about it and learn more about him."
Sharron Smith, 70, of Sikeston said she and her husband, Luther Smith Jr., 83, will raise crosses along the highway on Good Friday.
"We wanted to lift up Jesus," Smith said, adding Good Friday is the perfect time to do so.
Smith said she and her husband wanted to participate because of their personal faith and because this is a movement of all denominations.
"Everybody is wanting to make a stand for Christianity," Smith said. " ... We feel like the country was founded on the principal of religion, and now it has gotten so far away from that, ... The more people who see the cross, the more will know it represents Jesus and we are a Christian nation."
Although not a movement affiliated with any church or person, Carry the Cross was formed by David Craig, pastor of Life Church in Sikeston.
"As a movement, we discourage any church, organization or individual from putting their name on the cause. The purpose of Carry the Cross is about one man, Jesus Christ. Our nation needs a revival and we can create on in Missouri that will benefit not only the United States of America but the whole world," Craig said.
Those interested in participating can contact Knoderer. They can call to reserve a spot along the highway. Zones are also mapped out and can be viewed on the Carry the Cross Now Facebook page.
The event will be conducted rain or shine. Sparkman suggested bringing chairs, sunglasses or water for those who may need it as they raise their crosses along the highways. Some volunteers are even wearing safety vests so they're visible to motorists.
For more information on how to get involved, visit Facebook page www.facebook.comcarrythecrossnow, website www.carrythecrossnow.com, email email@example.com or contact Knoderer at 573-275-6884 or 888-404-8444.
Poplar Bluff, MO