On Good Friday, April 18, ministers and church members from Bartow area churches will commemorate the biblical sacrifice of Simon of Cyrene and lift up the cross of Christ for all to see as part of the Bartow Ministerial Association’s celebration of the Easter season.
According to the New Testament, Simon shouldered the cross of Jesus as He was marched to Golgotha to be crucified. The annual carrying of the cross by church members commemorates that event and draws the faithful into the Easter events, said First Presbyterian Church of Bartow Pastor Jim Hatch, who is coordinating this year’s annual Cross Walk.
At 11:45 a.m., at four gathering places in downtown, mini processions will begin, all headed toward Fort Blount Park. At each site, someone will begin carrying a cross to be handed off to others as each crossbearer leads the processions to the park, Hatch explained.
The gathering places are BB&T Bank on North Broadway, First Assembly of God Church on South Broadway, the Chicken Shack on East Main Street and at ABC Pizza on West Main Street. The processions, during which hymns and choruses are sung, are expected to converge at the park at noon, Hatch said.
At noon, there will be a joint 45-minute Good Friday service, which will include hymns, prayers and Bible readings recounting the Good Friday events as commemorated during Eastertide.
This will be the 17th annual cross walk, according to Hatch.
Various churches provide the large five-to-seven foot crosses to be carried in the processionals.
“The service is a simple mixture of songs and scripture readings which retell the purpose and story of the trial, suffering and death of Jesus,” Hatch said.
For many years, the cross walk culminated at the old Polk County Courthouse, now the Polk County History Center.
Hatch said the service will include hymns such as, “Were you there?” “Amazing Love,” “When I Survey the Wonderful Cross” and “Lamb of God.”
He also said that participants will be selected to do the seven or eight Bible readings.
“There is no message or sermon,” the minister explained, “Just that reported by the Gospel writers.”
Hatch estimated attendance to be about 150 people.
“That’s traditionally how many participate,” he said.
There may also be a special dramatic presentation, dance or song included in the service.
The crosses provided by individual churches will be returned to each church following the service. At one time, one was erected on the front lawn of the old courthouse where it stayed until Easter Sunday.
In the event of rain, which Hatch said has never happened, the service will be held in the First United Methodist Church, three blocks south of Fort Blount Park on Broadway.
Area churches participating in the ceremonies include First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, First Assembly of God Church, Praise Temple, Mount Gilboa Baptist Church, St. James AME Church and First Providence Missionary Church.
To learn more, contact Hatch at 863-533-5005 for information.