Cross walk on Good Friday

Around two dozen area residents took turns taking up a large wooden cross Friday afternoon, carrying it through the streets of Marietta as they attended different church services in honor of Good Friday.

The annual Walk of Christian Witness event held by the Marietta Area Ministerial Association has been a Good Friday tradition for more than 20 years, said the Rev. Linda Steelman of the First Congregational Church.

“It’s done on Good Friday, the day we believe Jesus was crucified. In the Bible there are references where Jesus says take up your cross and follow me,” she said.

Marietta resident Tricia Campbell said Easter is one of her favorite holidays and the Walk of the Christian Witness is an great way to observe the events surrounding the holiday.

Campbell’s 12-year-old son took up the front of the cross and with the help of two other men carried it a half a mile from Front Street to Wooster Street.

“It’s just a nice symbolic walk,” said Tricia.

That symbolism resonated with Myla Mitchem, 57, who serves as youth pastor for the Tunnel Community Youth Group in Warren Township.

“I like to try somehow to go back in time and feel a little bit of what Christ went through. I know I can never go through what he did, but I can just get a little taste of it,” she said.

Mitchem and others took turns carrying the cross to the various churches, just over a mile trip from start to finish.

Four girls from the Tunnel Community Youth Group were among the first to take up the cross.

“It’s heavy,” said 15-year-old Katlyn Coffman. “It made me realize how Jesus had to do it by himself and we had four people and it was hard. It puts it into perspective.”

Coffman has participated in the event for the past few years and enjoys visiting the different churches and taking in the different styles of churches and sermons.

“The last church, they told the entire story of Christ’s life. It was good,” she said after leaving First Congregational Church on Front Street.

The services started at noon at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Second Street, then traveled to the First Congregational Church, the Christ United Methodist Church on Wooster Street and the First Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street.

Finally participants carry the cross across Fourth Street to St. Mary’s Catholic Church and join a Good Friday Service that is already in progress, said Steelman.

In years past, observers have asked to join in on the solemn march, she said.

“It doesn’t have to be just people from the participating churches. Anyone in the community is encouraged to participate,” she said.

That spirit of unity has kept Williamstown residents Jim and Edie Lindley coming back for the past few years.

“It’s a very interesting event. We are all celebrating the same event in different ways and it is nice to see the different churches,” said Edie, 69, a parishioner of First Congregational Church.

The Rev. Stacy Evans, a part-time pastor at Norwood and Faith United Methodist churches was participating in the walk for the second time.

“I think it is a good way to witness on Good Friday. It is a good way to be together as Christians in different settings,” he said.