In His Footsteps

Interfaith cross walk a community tradition in Parkersburg

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Carrying the cross into First United Methodist Church during the annual Stations of the Cross in downtown Parkersburg is Shane Bowersock.

PARKERSBURG — For more than 20 years the annual interfaith Good Friday Stations of the Cross Walk has been a tradition in downtown Parkersburg.

Organizers of the event said the bright clear April skies and warmer temperatures brought out one of the largest groups in recent years.

Sherry West and Cindy Spainhour, two of the walk organizers, said it was difficult to keep track of how many made the walk and how many stayed behind at St. Francis Xavier for the entire event.

“We had a large crowd there and several decided not to make the walk,” she said. “We think about 130 to 140 made the walk and maybe there were a few more at each church.”

Friday’s procession commemorated the Via Dolorosa, or the path Jesus Christ took to the cross, and began at noon at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church. From there the procession moved, in order, to First Baptist Church, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, Logan Memorial United Methodist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church and then The Salvation Army Chapel.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton A group estimated to be between 130 and 140 people commemorates the Via Dolorosa, or the path Jesus Christ took to the cross, to seven downtown churches Friday. See this article at to watch an accompanying video.

For Emily Fordyce this year was the first time to make the walk.

“I’ve never done this before and I wanted to do this because I love Jesus,” she said. “I’m new to the area and I’m learning about the different activities.”

Elisha Bell, of Parkersburg, said she has been on the walk a few times over the years.

“I go to First Baptist Church and they’ve talked about it,” she said.

James Lord-Randall and Virginia Lord-Randall said they are relatively new to the area, having lived in the area for about seven years. They have participated in the walk almost every year.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton The Rev. Paul L. Hicks, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, reads the 12th and 13th stations at Trinity Episcopal Church.

“The first year we were here we saw this in the newspaper,” he said. “We started and we are impressed with the beauty aspect of it and the coming together in the community.

“It seems to grow, although there was one bad year for rain.”

Virginia said she was impressed by how many come out.

“This is the largest we’ve seen,” she said. “When you consider the number that remained at the church.”

They also said they were encouraged by the number of families and youth taking part in it.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Cierra Layman reads the ninth station when the procession moves to Logan Memorial United Methodist Church on Ann Street.

“We were raised Roman Catholic and when we were young it was forbidden to go in other churches,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to go to others now.”

Stations of the Cross are: Jesus is condemned to death, Jesus carries his cross, Jesus falls the first time, Jesus meets his mother, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, Jesus falls the second time, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, Jesus falls the third time, Jesus is stripped of his garments, Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross, Jesus dies on the cross, Jesus is taken down from the cross and Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Praying the Stations of the Cross includes scripture readings, prayers and meditations on each station. They are prayed at times throughout the year, in particular, during the season of Lent and on Good Friday.