Community Essential: Join Area Faith Leaders for a “Virtual” Way of the Cross

Join Area Faith Leaders for a ‘Virtual’ Way of the Cross

 

By Staff Report

Butler County Connect

The Presbyterian Church of Hamilton will join with area churches to host its
annual community event, “Way of the Cross” virtually this year on Good Friday, April 10,
starting at noon.

Pastor John Lewis, 2018, Way of the Cross. File photo

“We walk in silence, remembering that Christ carried the cross on Good Friday.
It’s been going on for many years and people look forward to it. It’s a somber time, and
a very reflective time, but it’s really done a lot to bring us together as a community,”
says Pastor John Lewis of The Presbyterian Church of Hamilton.

The community “Way of the Cross” will feature area pastors and community
leaders from Hamilton, Fairfield and the surrounding communities, who will offer short
devotions and scripture readings to remind viewers of Christ’s journey to the cross. The
event will take place on Facebook Live beginning at noon at
www.facebook.com/pg/thepresbyofhamilton/videos.

Although the live walk around the downtown square in Hamilton has been
cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, everyone is still invited to participate via
Facebook Live. Lewis says when the event is held downtown, hundreds of locals gather to
remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Participants gather at the historic Butler
County Courthouse and proceed to The Presbyterian Church of Hamilton. In all,
participants make seven stops, including other area churches, such as The Front Street
Church of God, Zion Lutheran Church, Power Source Ministries and First United
Methodist Church. There is also a stop at the Butler County Government Services
Building. Scroll down to continue reading…

Pastor John Lewis, 2018, Way of the Cross. File photo

“We started this in 2003, and it’s grown over the years. We invite pastors from all
of the churches in the community to participate…We do it to try to bring us together as a
faith community. It’s an attempt to tear down the denominational walls, and come
together on one common belief in Jesus Christ,” Lewis says.

 

Leaders from various faith backgrounds – (Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and
more), races and community ministries come together for the Good Friday event, he
says. In the past, 400 to 500 people have turned out for a time of singing hymns, responsive prayers and reflections.

“It’s interesting, people will see what we’re doing, and they will oftentimes honk or
wave in support, and say ‘thank you for doing this.’ Really, we’re being a witness out in
the public. We could keep it private, and off the marketplace, but we want to be out
there where people can see what’s going on,” Lewis says.

Normally, the hour-and-fifteen-minute walk will conclude at the old Butler County
Courthouse with a time of communion, closing remarks, along with additional songs and
responsive prayers.

“The purpose of this really was to be a faithful witness, to remember Good
Friday, to honor it, and to reenact in some distant way that we walk with Christ on Good
Friday. It was also created to bring us all together, and we all can say, ‘That which
unites us is greater than that which divides us,’” Lewis says.

“The walls come down and we’re all together in this,” he says, “It’s really a
community area event.”

Leaders from Hamilton Christian Center, Princeton Pike Church of GodNorth
Fairfield Baptist Church and Lindenwald United Methodist Church also participate.

Scroll down to continue reading…

Pastor Barry Clardy of Princeton Pike Church of God. Photo submitted.

“So that brings us to coronavirus 2020…People said don’t cancel this, so we had
to come up with a way to do this. And, with everyone streaming-live their worship
services, we got the idea to live stream the major pieces of ‘The Way of the Cross’ and
the participants,” Lewis says.

Sixteen to seventeen ministers and faith leaders from the community came
together to pre-record this year’s “Way of the Cross” live-stream event. Basically, each
stop or station was reenacted. There will also be footage of scenes from previous “Way
of the Cross” events. The producers are also pursuing permission to use segments of
Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” but that is still pending approval.

“We brought everything inside our church. We turned it into a studio and brought
in each pastor, or participant, one at a time, and recorded them giving their message,
reflection or responsive reading,” Lewis says.

Many of the churches will have a far reach when it comes to sharing “Way of the
Cross” through their various online platforms, he says. Churches and individuals can
share the link on their Facebook pages and websites at
www.facebook.com/pg/thepresbyofhamilton/videos.

“We still are going to do the stations of the cross, we’re just going to do it,
virtually, and streaming it. It’s still a chance to bring us all together. This virus has
caused us all to reconfigure our lives, worship experiences and community experiences,
but we think we found a way to keep us all together,” Lewis says.

Way of the Cross 2017. File photo

Even though we can’t physically be together, we can be together through
technology, through video and audio,” he says, “…And, this potentially could reach
many more people than had we gathered in person.”

Those who participate can share, like or comment on Facebook, or carry on a
conversation with others by text.

“There’s a real sense that we are together. We know other people are watching
this at the same time we are watching this and participating in this virtually at the same
time we are,” says Lewis. “We think it’s important for people to gather together to
remember Good Friday and all that Christ did for us, and this is the best that we can do
to come together as a community.”

The Presbyterian Church of Hamilton is located at 23 S. Front Street. For more
information, go to www.thepresby.org.