Small group shares burden of carrying cross on Good Friday

The numbers are nowhere near what they used to be, but that has not stopped a small band of Christians from continuing to gather to carry on a Port Orchard Easter weekend tradition of prayer and outreach going on 30 years.

Longtime residents and those native to Port Orchard are likely more familiar with the annual community Cross Walk, a tradition created to commemorate the solemn nature of the days leading up to Easter. The walk takes place every Good Friday, considered by Christians a holy day observing the crucifixion of Jesus before the celebration of resurrection on Easter.

“It’s to honor Jesus’ death, one of the greatest acts in all history, and do it in a quiet contemplative way,” said Ron Boehme, a leader of this year’s walk. “In past years, we’ve had pastors preach at each of the stations and other bigger things, but the past few years have been smaller with a time of contemplation.”

Dozens at a time have attended past walks, but since the 2018 death of George Larson, a former pastor at Spirit of Life Lutheran Church and regarded as the visionary of the event, attendance has dropped. This year’s group that departed from First Lutheran Church March 29 was just seven.

“There have been years that it’s been really big. COVID changed everything a little bit, and with stuff still getting going again, it’ll be small but still really meaningful as we pray for the community,” Boehme said.

The smaller attendance led to downsizing the burdening cross. “It was more impactful, and you really felt it. You know, though, with the older we’re getting, it was getting harder to do,” he said.

So what keeps people coming back? “People see our faithfulness,” longtime participant Tina Holmes said. “In the holiness of Good Friday, it puts us in a scene where we can get a glimpse of what Christ went through just carrying that cross.”

The Crosswalk was still a taxing one, an almost two-mile trip from the church down a busy Mitchell Avenue to the city’s waterfront. Participants took turns shouldering the weight of the cross. Another followed from the back holding the cross’s base off the ground as it was transported to several sites of prayers: South Kitsap High School, St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church and the Westbay Center, among others.

The journey caught the eyes of those walking or driving by. Some gave a kind wave or thumbs up, and others gave a quick honk of the horn. More special was the growth of the group along the way, as many as three extras joining the huddle for a prayer.

Holmes said of those joining the group, “It’s the faithfulness in people that are brave enough, strong enough to actually carry the cross down through down and not feel bad about it. We need to share this with the world.”

The cross is carried across Mitchell Road over Lund Avenue.

The cross is carried across Mitchell Road over Lund Avenue.