Apr 17

"We BECAME a Church; without walls, without a steeple!"

When a huge tree fell in his yard, Pastor Don Richards had a vision. Instead of chopping it into firewood, he had the tree made into a giant cross. And on Good Friday, hundreds of his neighbors made a very public belief statement by carrying the 14-ft., 425-lb. reminder of Christ’s suffering through the streets.

The Story

The Rev. Don Richards, Grace United Methodist Church: “The cross becomes more than just a furnishing on the altar, when the people bring the witness of Jesus Christ into the community. I’m Don Richards. I’m a pastor at Grace United Methodist Church. And we’re carrying a 425- pound cross 14.5 miles from my home in Alliance, Ohio to Grace United Methodist Church in North Canton, Ohio. We’re doing this to make a public witness that Easter is about something more than chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, and the cross is more than a piece of jewelry.”

Singing: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.”

Don Richards: “I was out in my woods last fall. There was this tree &ellipsis; it was just so straight and beautiful, and I was thinking, ‘We need a cross in our church, in our family life center,’ and then the idea of carrying the cross on Good Friday began to emerge.”

Matt Brown: “It’s raining, it’s about 45 degrees out, we have constant wind from the southeast. What we’re putting up with today is really nothing.It’s a pittance compared to what Christ had to put up with.”

Rebecca Evanoff: “I think this is a once-in-a-life time opportunity. It’s something really close to my heart. I would walk the whole day.”

Don Richards: “No one was complaining. No one was griping. And we became a church without walls. We became a church without a steeple, without any furnishings.”

Participants read: “Those who had placed their cloaks and palm branches along the way and praised Jesus, now were hurling insults at the innocent victim of human cruelty.”

Don Richards: “We became a church that was centered around this cross of Jesus Christ.”

The participants prayed as they walked: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Blake Fogle: “This day has changed my life because it’s really helped me embrace the true meaning of what Jesus went through when he died on the cross.”

Rebecca Evanoff: “After this day, the cross will mean so much more to me because I’ve carried it. It’s an amazing thing that I will never forget.”

Paul Olson: “Being out here in the cold and carrying this cross, and actually seeing a cross that’s fourteen feet high, and I could visualize him dying on the cross, and it really just makes me stop and think.”

“Watch the pole. We’re going to park it right here.”

Don Richards: “We couldn’t get the cross through the door. But they weren’t willing to leave it parked outside on the lawn, and they tilted that thing up and picked that 400-pound cross up, and brought it through the doors. And there were so many people in there waiting to see it. Everybody broke it to a cheer. I think this event will change the way I look at the cross. I think I will look at the cross and see the power it has to bring unity. God brought 260 people together today just with a wooden cross. It was a phenomenal, spiritual, Christ-centered experience.”

For More information:

The cross walk participants raised money and made donations to some local programs that help the homeless. They also picked up trash along the route.

“That’s what Jesus did for us,” Richards said. “He took our trash and filth and sin with him to the cross.” For more information, contact Grace United Methodist Church at 330-499-2330 or visit their website at www.Northcantongrace.org. This video and Story are courtesy of the People of The United Methodist Church, Through donations with World Service. Please visit www.UMC.org

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