Churches walk together in Jesus' footsteps

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TIVERTON — It was a few minutes before noon last week on Good Friday when Reverend John Higginbotham of Holy Trinity Church at 1956 Main Road asked Daniel Borden, 17, if he would like to carry the cross at the start of a processional through the streets of Tiverton.

The occasion was the second annual Good Friday walk that wends its way a mile and a half for an hour and a half through Tiverton, stopping at locations that are meant to signify the 14 Stations-of-the-Cross, said Rev. Higginbotham. "The stations represent events that happened to Jesus on Good Friday, from the moment he was condemned to death to his death on the cross."

Daniel, a member of the church choir and a junior at Tiverton High School, was assisted by friend, Zoe Mutton, and minutes later the two set forth on the pilgrimage through town in remembrance of the passion and death of Jesus.

The cross Daniel and Zoe carried — to Station 3, at a parking lot across Main Road from Grinnell's Beach, meant to symbolize the moment Jesus falls for the first time — measured about 41/2 feet by 3 feet, and was attached to a bundle of sticks, also shaped as a cross.

Later, Daniel said what he liked most about the walk "was that the church did something different. We got to experience and listen to all the 14 stations that Jesus went through before he died and was buried."

And he added, "I really enjoyed going out on a walk on a nice spring afternoon with my friends and family at Holy Trinity."

There were stations that represent moments when Jesus falls, for the first, second, and third times, when he meets his mother and the women of Jerusalem, when Simon helps to carry the cross, when Veronica wipes Jesus' face, and when he dies on the cross.

Walkers took turns carrying the cross between stations, and at each station heard a reading about the religious significance of each station.

Anthony Concepcion, 13, a 7th grader and 14 years old, and a friend, Mitch Swass, 18, who is home schooled, both shared in the cross-carrying between the Central Baptist Church on Highland Road (Station 8) and Coastal Roasters (Station 12) on Main Road.

"I enjoyed being able to express my religion with people who would understand," said Anthony. "I have a better understanding of what Jesus went through. I also carried the cross last year and I have to say the cross got lighter."

Mitchell said, "it was nice. I didn't do it last year. It gave me a sense of what Jesus went through. It was nice to understand what Jesus did for us. He went through torture ... He did more for us than just die."

Sam Ryan, 13, a 7th grader at Little Compton's Wilbur & McMahon School, did the reading at Coastal Roasters, the 12th station, representing when Jesus died on the cross.

"I think it was an eye-opener," he said. "I never learned about the story of how Jesus went from the garden to the time he was dead on the cross, and how he was dragged and beaten and stripped of his humanity. I was never taught that in Sunday school."

Sam said he "enjoyed the walk very much. It was good to be around other people who know about this."

Matthew Craig, 9, a third grader at Tiverton's Ranger School, said he carried the cross from the 13th to the last station. "It was a little lighter than I thought," he said, "but your arms get really tight."

"I was walking to honor Jesus," he said. "I really liked it."

The most fun, Matthew said, was "walking with all my friends and walking with Father John and listening to all the reading."

Rev. Higginbotham said the walk this year had 88 participants. Last year it was 50. "The word has gotten out," he said.

The walk concluded at about 3 p.m. with  a lunch of soup and sandwiches at Holy Trinity. All participants had been asked to bring a canned good for the Old Stone Baptist Church food pantry.

Hosted by Holy Trinity Church, the event was a collaboration between youth and members of the Amicable Congregational Church and the Rev. William Sterritt, United Congregational Church and the Reverend Michael Frady, the Old Stone Baptist Church and the Rev. Pat Crough, St. Christopher and St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church and the Rev. Peter Andrews, and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and Rev. Higginbotham.

"It's a great community thing," said Rev. Higginbotham. "What I like is it gathers all the churches together to break bread. It's an ecumenical thing."

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