Annual Cross Walk and service celebrate Easter holiday

Published 3:45 pm Monday, April 10, 2023

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Easter weekend is always a time during the year when Christians of all denominations come together to celebrate and honor the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Starting with Good Friday – which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary – dozens across Winchester took time to praise.

Following a Cross Walk, a service at First Baptist Church took place with dozens in attendance gathering in unity.

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“We want to gather here today to remember what this day is all about,” said Allan Hutchinson, Pastor at Winchester First Church of God and President of Winchester Association of Churches. “It’s a day of remembering what Jesus did for us. We come from many different churches [and] many different backgrounds, but today we’re one because it’s the cross of Jesus and the gospel of Christ that brings us together.”

The annual Cross Walk started as usual at WMU on Main Street.

Following an opening prayer, dozens began the walk south along Main Street.

However, they were not alone in more ways than one.

A wooden cross accompanied the group, with individuals taking different turns holding it as they hoisted the cross beam on their shoulders.

“As Christians, we know that we’re made right with God through what Jesus did … Through that act of redemption on the cross”, Hutchinson added. “As we joined together, we carried it. It’s just a symbol showing that’s the thing that brings us together.”

Walking was not an easy task physically, as it’s estimated that carriers were probably bearing about 60 to 75 pounds of the cross’ 75 to 85 pounds total.

However, many showed gratitude.

Gleason F. Humphrey, a Winchester resident and owner of Iceman’s DJ Services, could be heard giving thanks during his turn carrying the cross.

“I just was proud to be able to carry the cross today. The Lord, my Jesus, has saved me and died on the cross for my sins,” Humphrey said. “I can’t even imagine what he went through on the cross for me.”

Once the group had walked some distance south along Main Street, they took a left at Lexington Avenue.

Shortly after, they arrived at First Baptist Church,  the cross was placed into a hole just outside.

Dr. John Lepper, Pastor at First Baptist Church, spoke to individuals who were together outside, standing in the grass, sidewalk, and even along a ramp.

While acknowledging the importance and holiness of Good Friday, Lepper also reminded others of the horrors encountered at the crucifixion.

“It was a horrible day. It was a horrific day,” Lepper said. “We all claim to be part of the family of God, and we live in a world in an ocean of hurt and hate … We can be examples of love. It’s my hope that we together can reintroduce the world to Jesus.”

During the Good Friday service that ensued, several individuals participated in music, including Cynthia Carr, David Thomas, and Erika Gaines – who sang a song titled “Redeemer.”

Attendees also sang hymns “The Old Rugged Cross” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Near the end, former Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner was recognized for his years of service to the community.

Speaking the benediction, Burtner recounted the words of his mother’s uncle, who always finished sermons with particular words.

“Now to him, that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty both now and forever. Amen.”

Certainly not to go unmentioned, Renny Ross – Pastor of Oasis Foursquare Church – delivered the Good Friday message.

“Let us never forget that because Jesus was willing to offer his own blood for the payment of our sinful debt … We are forgiven,” Ross said.