SALEM - Members of area churches plan to carry a stark reminder of Good Friday's significance around downtown this afternoon while praying for the local bars, businesses, residents and others - walking a route in the shape of a cross.
"On Good Friday, we recall Jesus carrying the cross and suffering for us. I think that's a good thing for us Christians to go through ourselves," Pastor Alan Smearsoll said.
The Walk of the Cross event begins at 1:30 p.m. in the rear parking lot of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, where Smearsoll serves, with anyone who wants invited to take part in the 12-stop walk. All area churches have been asked to join the walk.
Participants will pray and reflect at each stop while taking turns carrying a cross.
"We're praying for Salem," he said.
From the parking lot, the group will travel south on Ellsworth Avenue toward Butech Bliss, cut through a parking lot and walk north on Broadway, east on Pershing to the Salem Fun Factory and back on Pershing to Broadway, then north on Broadway to State Street and west to Ellsworth, Ellsworth south to Pershing, then west on Pershing to Howard and back east on Pershing, returning south to the church parking lot.
At each stop, the group will pray and recite scripture related in some way to the stop. Part of the area in question includes the bars on Broadway, the corner where a meth lab was found, the area near where shots were allegedly fired and the area where Molotov cocktails were thrown.
"I felt that this particular area was in the news a lot and was hurting," Smearsoll said, adding they were in need of prayer.
Stops will include Big Dog Seafood, Steak and Ale and JD's Wood Fired Grill, Foxes Den, Butech Bliss, the bars on Broadway, homes on Broadway, the Guatemalan Store, Salem Fun Factory, the coin and jewelry exchange, downtown Salem, corner of Howard and Pershing, the fire department and the recycling station.
"As we're doing this, people can see this as a reminder that it's Good Friday," Smearsoll said.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org