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Pastors start new event after Rock Hill’s Good Friday tradition ends

Sometimes, from disappointment comes opportunity.

Easter week – when from death and despair comes the continued faith of billions – again shows the way.

There will be no Stations of the Cross this year in downtown Rock Hill after almost 20 years of the annual ecumenical Good Friday late afternoon event involving several churches that was held right on Main Street.

Traffic would be halted. The street would be filled with Presbyterians and Episcopalians, Catholics and Lutherans, and anybody else regardless of affiliation. They walked together without division. The sturdiest carried the cross, in stretches.

The primary organizer of the annual event retired and moved away, and as Easter approached, nobody grabbed the reins to set everything up in time.

Nobody’s fault, no blame, but with the Easter Bunny so close his fur could be smelled, no stations, either. A Rock Hill tradition seemed teetering without a net.

Now, though, several area pastors had decided to hold a new – and hopefully engaging – public event at Winthrop University at noon Friday.

It is called “A Good Friday Journey – Readings, Music and Reflection,” said John O’Kain, associate pastor for campus and young adults at Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church.

O’Kain, the Rev. Christine Stoxen of Grace Lutheran Church, and the Rev. David Brown from Oakland Baptist Church organized the Winthrop event, which will start in the walkway between the DiGiorgio Campus Center and the West Center.

The walk will head around campus to different spots, such as historic Tillman Hall and Byrnes Auditorium – a short walk, but still symbolizing the walk of Christ to Calvary and crucifixion.

“This day, this holy week, is a time for people to come together,” O’Kain said. “We can make this special. This is for the community, any and all.”

Brown, an associate pastor for young people at Oakland Baptist, said Jesus’ journey is important and Friday’s journey will have visuals at each stop.

“Traditions that people have are valuable, important,” Brown said. “The downtown event was a part of Rock Hill’s spiritual life, no question. What this does is offer a fresh look during such an important time of reflection.”

All of the hundreds of people who have attended the downtown Stations of the Cross in the past is urged to attend the noon Winthrop journey – and everyone else is invited, too.

The quick turnaround of the Winthrop Good Friday event seems perfect for this week, as Christians around the world rally to renew faith and kick-start service to others.

These pastors know that the future of any and all churches is teens and young adults, new parents and singles, who mix with older believers from congregations to create a future Rock Hill with a thriving faith life.

Nobody ever said religion has to bring about coma. Jesus Christ was no bore – and this Good Friday service will not be a snoozer, either.

And yes, this journey Friday will have what all Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross services worldwide have – a cross that moves on the backs and shoulders of those who have faith that what it is, and symbolizes, is not just beams of wood.