The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 29, 2013

Footsteps of faith: Participants find inspiration in annual cross walk

JOHNSTOWN — With its long-awaited sunshine and higher temperatures, Good Friday was a good day for a walk, especially a cross walk.

East Hills Ministerium’s procession of the cross began with a short service at noon at Beulah United Methodist Church, 716 Bedford St. in Dale Borough and ended with a service at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1000 Scalp Ave. in Richland Township.

Participants ranged from first-timers to old-timers and ages included young and old alike.

It’s still a new event for Pastor Jeff Popson of Beulah UMC.

“This is my second one, and it’s wonderful,” Popson said.

His wife, Audrey, added, “It’s great for the community and the church and for people to see.”

It was the first year for Erik Crum and Tina Perecinski of Hornerstown.

A friend had told them about the event, and they wanted to see what it was like and possibly lose some weight.

Bill Geisel, former owner of the nearby Geisel Funeral Home, has been with the cross walk since its beginning and finds it inspirational.

“It is uphill to Mount Calvary,” he said, referring to both the biblical Calvary where Jesus died and Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, where the cross walk ends.

“We pick people up along the way and get around 80. Members of each church we stop and carry the cross to the next church. We get a lot of young people.”

Geisel added that when bad weather comes, it seems to stir up enthusiasm as walkers suit up in their foul weather gear.

Other longtime walkers who come when they can are Raymond and Rebecca Hill of Richland, members of Homestead Avenue United Methodist Church.

“It’s a good witness with everything going on in the world today,” said Rebecca Hill.

“Christians need to be more outspoken. I enjoy the people and the messages at each stop.”

A younger participant, 5-year-old Glenn Dougherty, son of Mark and Amanda Dougherty, members of Oakland United Methodist Church, proudly said he wanted to carry the cross.

Some walkers were there with their grandchildren.

Lynn and Donna Bray of Richland, also members at Oakland, had 13-year-old Brianna and 2-year-old Olyvia.

“It’s been a tradition with me and Brianna since she was a

1-year old,” said Lynn Bray. “She will ask me if we’re going to go. It’s an experience for the children. It’s more symbolism to me. This cross is not the same weight as the cross he carried for us.”

The Brays have gone on the cross walk in all kinds of weather and consider a day like Friday a challenge.

“The thing to do is to wear layers so you can take something off when you overheat,” Lynn Bray said.

Popson opened the service at Beulah by saying the abuse, suffering and humiliation heaped upon Jesus Christ on what we call Good Friday was not a good day for him, but it was a good day for Christians.

He used Luke 23:13-25 as a scripture reference.

The passage tells of Jesus being brought before Pilate and Herod for inciting rebellion, but neither official could find that he did anything wrong.

The angry crowd insisted that a known criminal, Barabbas, be released and that Jesus be crucified.

Popson likened Pilate giving in to the crowd’s pressure to giving in to the pressure of sin.

“How many times do we buckle under pressure?” he asked. “We do what we shouldn’t do, and there are consequences to pay, but we cave in. We have all caved in to sin, but at the cross there is love, mercy and forgiveness.”

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