clicking of horses’ hooves beat against the road as an occasional
sunray reflected off the shining armor of the guard. The hill
was steep where a young man, wearing a crown of thorns, struggled
beneath the load of a cross while his life changed forever.
For the fourth year, in a cold drizzly rain, Biblical
history came to life on Good Friday, as the junior and senior youth
group of Wheelersburg United Methodist Church re-enacted the journey
of Jesus carrying the cross. The group traveled from the church
in Wheelersburg to the center of town to Wagner’s Hill, representing
Calvary, where the towering cross was erected and displayed for Easter
sunrise services. The re-enactment has become a recognized
annual event in the area.
Dramatic in bright costumes made by member of the
Wheelersburg church, children of all ages walked behind the cross. Some
of the costumes date back as far as 50 years, created for previous
Those worn by the young people portraying Jesus and
the two Roman soldiers were in a theatrical company in Cincinnati,
originally work in the musical “Jesus Christ, Super Star.” The
crown of thorns was made by Don Bolander in 1965.
To prepare spiritually for carrying the cross, the
youth participated in the Lenten church services and on Friday, just
before the procession, they knelt at the alter in the sanctuary and
took communion together in remembrance of the event they were about
“The youth of the church give the community
a chance to be a witness to a part of Easter drama,” said Karen
Cremeans, youth director. “For some this will be the
only Easter message they will see. It gives our youth a chance
to be a witness to our faith.”
The cross used in the procession was constructed and
built by Ray Kennard and the Senior High youth group in 1993. The
200 lb cross is a replica of the Biblical one, and was originally
designed 21 years ago by Sheri and Ray Kennard at the Charlton City
United Methodist Church in Maine. Closely represents the Roman
cross on which Jesus was crucified. This enormous creation
is approximately 15 feet, 6 inches in height with a cross beam of
7 feet, 6 inches.
Portraying Jesus was Jim Martin a student at Wheelersburg
High School and the president of the youth group.
Before carrying the cross to portray Jesus, he said
he saw the act as a way to share his faith by telling people why
Jesus died for them. After the journey was completed, he said, “It
made me really appreciate what Jesus did for me.”
“The annual trek is as rooted in Biblical history
as the cross itself,” Cremeans said.
“When you go back into church history, most
people couldn’t read or write, until the 13th century. So
how did ministers tell the story of Jesus? It was done through
“I wanted to bring the story and the New Testament
alive to these kids that are so brilliant with Nintendo’s and
all the competition with the TV and super movies that blow people
up. How do you compete with that?”
“We thought maybe a pageant would bring things
to life for these kids. We found out the first time we had
a reenactment that people in the community who didn’t attend
church said seeing these kids carry the cross was the only Easter
they would see. So it served a purpose in the community and
the youth were able to contribute in a great way.”
The 12 disciples who helped bear the weight of the
great cross were portrayed by John Lapp, Will Wood, Pete Martin,
Michael Peters, James Bays, Brian Fate, Dustin Woodrum, Joe Hayden,
Brett Baker and Jason Maple.
Suzanne Welch of Portsmouth, who with Arron Wood portrayed
Roman guards in full battlement armor, rode her magnificent Arabian
Others taking part in the reenactment included Ginny
Stillwell, as Jesus mother Mary; and Erica Brown, Salome. Also
participating were members of the church youth groups and children
of shining Light Station, an after-school youth program for children
from pre-school to sixth grade.
Senior High youth directors are Karen and Chris Cremeans
and the Junior High youth directors are Tina & Eric Brown and
Beth and Mike Fite. Mary McQuay and Karen Cremeans are directors
of Shining Light Station. June Stroth was designer for most
of the costumes made by Wheelersburg church.
After the procession, a Good Friday service was conducted
on the hill while the massive cross was being lowered to the ground
at its crest. The proclamation of the passion story was read
from scriptures, several hymns were sung and the Rev. Brad Martin,
the church’s minister, delivered the Easter message.
As a project, members of the youth group crafted lapel
pins made from spikes with bows of purple ribbon, symbolizing Christ’s
robe, bearing the word “Forgiven” down the front. These
were given to those who witnessed the re-enactment at the top of