In a tradition now more than a decade old, dozens of Christians will take part this week in the Good Friday Cross Walk from Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church in Ocean View to Bethany Beach.
Between 100 and 150 people are expected to participate in the walk on Friday, March 31, according to Mariner’s Bethel Youth Coordinator Christina Wilson. The participants will take turns carrying the cross east on Route 26, in groups of five or six people at a time, she said.
The cross that is currently used for the walk, Wilson said, came from the Parkway Church of God in Salisbury, Md. That church had used the cross in a live drama “and they passed it on to us,” she said. The cross used in past cross walks has since been given to Wilson and her husband, Mariner’s Bethel pastor the Rev. Woodrow “Woody” Wilson, and has been placed in the yard of their Laurel home.
The newer cross has a platform incorporated on the bottom, from its initial use in the Salisbury church’s dramatization, Wilson said. The platform is sometimes used once the walkers reach the boardwalk in Bethany Beach, when one church member portrays Jesus during a short program, she said.
This year, the walkers who aren’t helping to carry the large cross will have their own smaller crosses to carry, thanks to a church member who made dozens of crosses for the church. Though the church member wishes to be anonymous, Wilson said she is thankful for his gesture.
“He came by some old wood, and it’s something he’s started doing,” she said.
Wilson said the walk itself takes about an hour, and is followed by a short service at the beach and a lunch. The journey, representing a faith tradition more than 2,000 years old, attracts quite a bit of attention each year, she said, and even more so now that the group has grown from the 25 or so marchers the first year. The Mariner’s Bethel cross walk was begun by the church’s Crash’d youth group but now includes church members of all ages.
The walkers sometimes sing worship songs or pray along the 2-mile trek, and Wilson said it is always a moving experience.
“You think about what it might have been like for Jesus,” she said. “Battered and bruised, but still expected to carry the cross.”
Woody Wilson said he hopes the visual of the cross will serve to help non-Christians understand the solemn time in the church year a bit better. Using the fact that Easter falls this year on April Fools’ Day as a connection, he said, “Some people think it’s a foolish thing,” to follow the Christian faith. “They don’t understand the message of the cross.” That message, he said, is that “Jesus gave his life for us.” That, he said, “was the greatest act of love, ever.”
The Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church’s Cross Walk will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 31. Walkers should meet in the lobby of the church, which is located at 81 Central Avenue, Ocean View, where there will be a short time of prayer before the walk. For more information, call the church at (302) 539-9510.