Local Christians mark Good Friday

PARKERSBURG – A record number of people remembered the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as they took part in the 16th annual Stations of the Cross at six downtown churches Friday.

Sherry West, a parishoner at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, said they counted 170 people at the end of the procession on the plaza in front of the Parkersburg Municipal Building.

“This is the biggest crowd ever,” she said. “This year the walkers are very grateful for the courtesy shown by motorists as they crossed the streets.”

West has been one of the organizers of the Good Friday event since 2004, the year the procession resumed. She said the procession went as planned for 2013.

“We had the same program to follow and we had very willing participants at all the churches,” she said.

West said the procession resumed in 2004 after a brief hiatus.

“A friend of mine and I, Barbara Sheppard, took it on,” she said. “I said ‘I hate that we didn’t do it this year; somebody should do something’ and she said ‘Yes, somebody should’ and I said ‘Is it us,’ and she said, ‘Yes.'”

West said planning has started for 2014.

“Next year First United Methodist Church on Juliana Street will join us,” she said.

Sponsored by the Downtown Ministerial Alliance, the procession began at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church with the first two stations. At each station there was a reading about the event followed by a prayer.

From there the crowd of about 170 moved to other locations for two readings at each church, which traced the events as Christ went from Pontius Pilate to his death on the cross at Golgotha in Jerusalem and burial in the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea.

In order after St. Francis Xavier, the procession went to First Baptist Church, Emmanuel Fellowship, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Logan Memorial United Methodist Church and Trinity Episcopal Church.

From there the procession moved to the plaza between the Parkersburg Municipal Building and the Wood County Judicial Annex, where the Salvation Army conducted the readings and prayers for the last two stations.

There are 14 stations in the Stations of the Cross. They are first, Jesus is condemned to death; second, Jesus takes up his cross; third, Jesus falls the first time; fourth, Jesus meets his afflicted mother; fifth, the cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene; sixth, a woman wipes the face of Jesus; seventh, Jesus falls a second time; eighth, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem; ninth, Jesus falls a third time; 10th, Jesus is stripped of his garments; 11th, Jesus is nailed to the cross; 12th, Jesus dies on the cross; 13th, the body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother, and the 14th, Jesus is laid in the tomb.

In Marietta, around two dozen area residents took turns taking up a large wooden cross Friday afternoon, carrying it through the city streets as they attended 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.

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.

Participants then carried the cross across Fourth Street to St. Mary’s Catholic Church and joined a Good Friday Service that was in progress, said Steelman.