Faithful walk in Christ’s footsteps, carrying cross from Steubenville to Wintersville on Good Friday

Amy Neeley BEARING THE BURDEN — Conner Garbade, 15, is one of the volunteers to carry the cross at the 11th-annual Christ Walk from the Friendship Room in Steubenville to the Crossroads Church in Wintersville. Approximately 100 people were expected to take part in the almost 7-mile walk.

STEUBENVILLE — When Amanda Thompson suggested an interdenominational Christ Walk 11 years ago, everyone thought she was crazy.

Thompson said that she was new to her faith when the idea of a walk came to her. She said that she was trying to evangelize to others, but kept hearing the same thing over and over: “Too many denominations can’t agree, why should I?”

“I realized we needed a visual show of our unification and love of Christ,” she said.

When she proposed the idea at first, people said it would be a “logistical nightmare” to get that many churches all on the same page.

Thompson wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, so she approached the the Ohio Valley Pastor Network.

She said the group fully supported her idea of a walk on Good Friday where volunteers would take turns carrying a cross to celebrate the sacrifice Christ made for their sins.

She said the network decided to start the walk with a worship service to get everyone together.

She said the first year 40 people made the trek. This year, approximately 100 people took part in the almost 7-mile walk from the Friendship Room in Steubenville to the Crossroads Church in Wintersville.

“Every year we have new churches that join,” Thompson said as the group paused for a water and restroom break at Grace Lutheran Church on Sunset Boulevard in Steubenville.

Conner Garbade, 15, was one the volunteers who carried the cross Friday.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Garbade said. “A once-in-a-lifetime thing. You know you are a part of something big. You are doing what Jesus did and praising the Lord.”

Garbade said while carrying the cross, he was reminded of a passage in the Bible that says “when you praise God the angels sing.”

“When you praise God,” he said, “that is everything.”

Amber Steabile, a member of the congregation at Crossroads Church, said that many men and women would take turns carrying the cross on the journey.

“They switch off,” she said. “Some men and women take turns that way they get a chance to feel what Jesus felt. That sacrifice.”

“Jesus did more than this for us,” Fran Lefheart, a participant, said. “This is just to feel a little of his heart.”

“He was beaten up and hurt when he had to do this,” Pauline Roubush, a participant, said. “This is just a way to show our gratitude.”

Steabile said that not everyone can walk the whole length of the Christ Walk. She said some people physically can’t do the walk, so she was driving a van from Crossroads Church following the walkers and picking up or giving a rest to those who need it.

She also said some cannot join the whole walk due to their work schedules, but they pick up extra walkers along the way.

“We want this to really be a community event,” Steabile said.