For more than 25 years, the Westminster Good Friday Cross Walk has brought people of faith from multiple Christian denominations together for fellowship as they carry a wooden cross to locations across the city, stopping for praryers and meditations on Easter and Jesus Christ.
This Good Friday, April 10, the cross walk will for the first time be a virtual one, with participants synchronizing their meditations at home through the use of prerecorded videos by the clergy of the Westminster Ministerium, a collection of area churches.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has sort of changed things for us,” said Pastor Glen McCrickard, of the Westminster Church of the Brethren. “In the past we have had good community turn out, and it’s an event folks look forward to. We regret that we can’t do it in person, but offering it online is our best alternative.”
The other cross walk participant churches are members of the Westminster Ministerium, Trinity Church of Christ, Grace Lutheran Church, St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church, Westminster United Methodist Church, Church of the Ascension, First Presbyterian and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.
Pastors from each of the churches will offer prayer, meditation and scriptural readings in the video that will be available online beginning at 11 a.m. Friday at Westminster Ministerium’s website, wmdministerium.wixsite.com/mysite, so that those who wish to participate can do so knowing that their fellows are doing so at the same time.
“Our thought was this is a way of being together as a community though we can’t be together face-to-face,” McCrickard said. “Though we are apart, we can still connect and offer support.”
The Shepherd’s Staff, a nonprofit that was conceived by the Ministerium in 1989, also participates in the annual Cross Walk, according to Executive Director Brenda Meadows, and this year’s theme will be tied into The Shepherd’s Staff’s mission to feed and support those in need. She will also offer an introductory video.
“Easter is connected to an empty tomb and we are concerned with empty bowls of all kinds that people are dealing with, particularly in these times,” she said. “For us, the empty bowl is a symbol of physical hunger, obviously, but there are other types of hunger that people go through life trying to feed. We have folks out there struggling to pay mortgages, that need financial help in these times. There’s all kinds of hunger."
That there is spiritual hunger is one reason why it was important to hold a cross walk, even if a virtual one, Meadows said. Many of the nonprofit’s other Easter activities have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Easter baskets collected from the community to be distributed by The Shepherd’s Staff to families in need, are now being held until sometime in the future when the Pandemic abates enough to make distributing them safe.
One of the Shepherd’s Staff’s major fundraisers, the Empty Bowls event, meanwhile, was supposed to be held Sunday April 5.
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“We had a lot of generous folks that said, 'keep the ticket money for a donation,” she said, “but we raise about half of our funds at the event, so we are down that income.”
But as with the cross walk itself, there are ways to keep giving. Meadows said that beginning Friday, The Shepherd’s Staff will be collaborating with Bud’s at Silver Run, Brewer’s Market and The Food Chick to run extended hours for the Silver Run Community Food Pantry — operating out of the front dining room at Bud’s, the pantry will now be open 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 2 until 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Social distancing food pantries and virtual Easter celebrations — they’re all about finding a way to be closer while keeping physical distance, according to Meadows.
“I think there is probably a lot to be gleaned and there is fellowship in worshiping together in the communion of saints,” she said. “While we are a part this is way we can still commune together.”
If you go
What: The first virtual Westminster Good Friday Cross Walk
When: 11 a.m. Friday, April 10
Where: Online at wmdministerium.wixsite.com/mysite