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Kanawha City churches uniting for first-time Procession of the Cross event

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter
Dr. Todd Wright, accompanied by Amy Parker, leads a service at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church in Kanawha City. The Venable Avenue church has helped organize a Procession of the Cross service through the area on Friday, April 14. Courtesy photo
Wright

The Village Chapel Presbyterian Church will be the starting point for a community Procession of the Cross Friday, April 14, throughout Kanawha City.

Other Kanawha City churches and businesses participating in the Good Friday event include Kanawha City Baptist Church, Morris Memorial United Methodist Church, St. Agnes Catholic Church, South Park Presbyterian Church, Southeast Church of the Nazarene and Harding Funeral and Cremations.

The two-mile walk along MacCorkle Avenue will begin at noon at Village Chapel Presbyterian, 3818 Venable Ave.

Walkers will meet at Village Chapel at noon and then proceed along the route, making six additional stops to listen to the seven last words of Christ and reflect and pray.

Village Chapel Presbyterian Church Pastor Todd Wright explained last week the origin of the first-time observance. “More than 10 years ago, three churches in Kanawha City -- Village Chapel, Morris Memorial United Methodist and St. Agnes Catholic Church -- got together to start a food pantry called Common Grounds. That has been a really fruitful combination of the three churches,” he said.

“The other thing about it that’s been exciting,” Wright said, “is that it meant that our members have gotten to know each other very well. It made a lot of sense, because we were interacting together, to have a joint Thanksgiving service, which we started maybe four years ago. We’ve rotated around those churches and had a lot of good experiences; the services raised money for Common Grounds.

“Two years ago, another minister said, ‘We’ve had so much fun, why should we keep this to ourselves? We ought to invite other churches.’ So, last fall, we doubled the number of churches involved with that and had a great time.

“As spring rolled around, it seemed like a good idea to build on that,” Wright said. “I had done a Procession of the Cross in one of the previous communities where I’d served. I put out the idea and all the churches I asked were really enthusiastic. It’s the start of a new tradition here.

“I suggested the route and we tinkered with it. It just seemed logical to go from west to east.

“You don’t have to be a member of one of the churches to join us in the walk. We’ll be glad to have anybody who wants to walk with us. Some folks will start at the beginning and walk through each of the stops until the end, but I won’t be surprised if some folks jump in starting with their home church and walk the rest of the way or just as far as they’re comfortable walking,” the pastor said.

“At each stop, we will read from a piece of scripture and have a brief reflection and a prayer. Then, one of the members of each host church will shoulder the cross, which is a 7-foot, rough-wood cross, and carry it to the next stop. Because the folks at Harding Funeral offered to be a part of this, we thought it would be the end stop. The last scripture has Jesus dying, and what better place to end up than a funeral home to drive home that he is really gone?

“We’re going to give it a shot this first year and see how it goes. Hopefully, folks will have a good experience and feel like it’s a worthy way to put ourselves in Christ’s shoes and a way of witnessing to our neighbors. It’s something all of the congregations in Kanawha City are coming together to do,” Wright said.

Police officers will assist walkers in crossing MacCorkle Avenue during Friday’s procession.

Wright said Valley Chapel Presbyterian and other area churches will host other Holy Week services through Easter Sunday.

“Different churches in the area do different services,” said Wright, who has pastored at Valley Chapel for the past seven years. “We’ve traditionally done a Maundy Thursday service. Some of our brothers and sisters will do a Good Friday service. We, at Valley Chapel, tend to do an Easter vigil that’ll start Friday afternoon and go all the way through until the sunrise service on Easter. That’s 40 consecutive hours of different members of the congregation taking an hour and praying and reading scripture and singing hymns and keeping watch, keeping vigil, between the time Christ died, which is generally accepted as being at three in the afternoon, all the way through to when we celebrate his Resurrection. We’ll be at the community sunrise service 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning at Appalachian Power Park before having our own Easter worship services.”

For additional information about Friday’s Procession of the Cross program, contact Mary Howard at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church, 304-925-7265 or mary@vcpresby.org


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