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First UMC commemorates Good Friday during walk with cross

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MASSENA - Those who were traveling down Main Street in Massena at about 5 p.m. Friday saw a small group walking down the street to the state Route 37 intersection.

Unlike normal walkers, however, the members of the First United Methodist Church were carrying a cross in observance of Good Friday, the day that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.

It was actually two events, according to church pastor, the Rev. Jeffrey V. Aiosa, beginning with the 5 p.m. walk with the cross.

“We’ll carry the cross through town, down to (Route) 37 where we’ll stop and pray,” Rev. Aiosa said.

As they left the church and walked along the sidewalk, each member of the group took a turn carrying the cross. When they arrived at the intersection with Route 37, the group stopped for a prayer before heading back to the church, where the First United Methodist Youth Group presented five interactive scenes that traced the Way of the Cross..

“This is the second year we’ve done the Way of the Cross. It was Glenda’s idea,” Rev. Aiosa said, referring to Youth Group Director Glenda Zobel, one of the organizers. “When she said the Stations of the Cross the kids in the youth group got excited and said we’d like to do that.”

It was the youth group and it’s approximately 16 members who organized the interactive presentation, designing the scenes and creating their costumes, he said.

“They had to do a lot of research into the story to see which scenes they would do and how to develop each scene,” he said.

“They did a lot of search and painted the scenery,” Ms. Zobel said.

The narration with Bible readings retraced the steps Jesus made, from praying in the Garden of Gethsemane to his burial in the tomb. One scene recalled Pontius Pilate sentencing Jesus to be executed, and included the carrying of the cross and the carrying of the body to the tomb following the crucifixion.

“It’s partly because I wanted the kids and the community to understand more about Good Friday. It’s changed a lot,” Ms. Zobel said, noting that some of the history associated with the day seems to have been lost over the year.

Ms. Zobel said that, for the first year, the youth group members started their preparation in January. It didn’t take quite as long this year.

“It took a lot of research. This year the scenery is painted and they had a lot of it organized,” she said.

The day’s events all had one goal in mind, according to the youth group director - “to remind us of Christ’s suffering for us and to remind onlookers of what Easter is really about.”

First United Methodist Church wasn’t alone in its commemoration of Good Friday. Around the world, Christians commemorated it with solemn observances, both large and small, according to the Associated Press.

In Jerusalem, a procession wound through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus. And volunteers dressed as Roman centurions drove nails through the palms of Catholic devotees in the Philippines, in a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ.

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