By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 200 area Christians participated in cross walks throughout Ashtabula County Friday thinking about the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago.
Churches from the Ashtabula area gathered more than 30 people at First United Methodist Church Elm Avenue and circulated through the downtown area praying for different needs in the community at about 10 different locations.
“It’s a testimony to my faith here in the community and an opportunity to pray for the needs of the community,” said Mary Ellen Blake of First Baptist Church concerning her reasons for attending the walk.
Jeff Stoll, pastor of Saybrook United Methodist Church, read from the 14th chapter of the Book of Mark and prayed for the ability to trust in God.
He urged participants to trust God when events take place that they may not understand. He prayed for participants to trust God in school, at work, in the community and with the economy.
Bob Hazeltine, of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, said he has participated in the walk many times.
“It helps me think about what our Lord went through,” he said.
In Andover, more than 60 people gathered at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church to begin a walk through Andover.
Father Matthew Albright said a cross walk on Good Friday is a time to truly take a step back and reflect on what Christ did for us.
“As we bear the heavy cross we remember you (Christ) bore not only the weight of the cross, but the mocking (and physical abuse),” Albright said.
He urged participants to not only experience the cross walk as a historical reminder of Christ’s venture to earth and resurrection, but as a way to deepen the commitment in the lives of those participating.
The Jefferson area cross walk started at First Baptist Church and wound through town to Oakdale Cemetery.
“Each year we try and refine this to make it more meaningful,” said the Rev. Fred Grimm. He said the Rev. Jim Brehler worked on the program so stops along the walk matched songs and scriptures.
As Louis Grund and Bob Harvey received help lifting a large wooden cross from a young boy, more than 110 people gathered to begin the walk.
Two Jefferson police cruisers provided crowd control for the event.
Grimm urged people to reflect on the experience that Christ had carrying his cross while walking to the site of his crucifixion.
The Jefferson cross walk included 14 stations. At each station a scripture was ready and prayer was offered.
Christians believe Christ was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter morning. Many area churches will have sunrise services outside before regular services on Easter morning.