CLINTON — A bright blue sky and sunshine welcomed devout believers during The Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday in downtown Clinton.
Between 50 and 75 people gathered for the ceremonial honoring of Jesus Christ as they walked from one downtown church to another, bearing the weight of a wooden cross to depict the sacrifice that Christ made to his people.
While the number of devotees reduced and grew between each passing of the cross, the message of Christ's last day resonated within the crowd.
First United Methodist Church pastor Bobb Barrick assisted in carrying the cross throughout the afternoon service but reveled in the commitment and dedication the other participants displayed.
"It's a really neat thing to see," Barrick said.
As the group moved from one church to another, a short passage from The Way of the Cross was recited by a volunteer, followed by a communal singing of a selected hymn by each church's leader.
For 17 years church goers of Clinton have participated in The Way of the Cross vigil. Mercy Hospital Chaplain Connie Beck has been a part of many of the services and has watched how it's grown throughout the years.
She recalled that during almost every procession that she has been a part of, the weather favored the dedicated walkers. Only once could she remember rain hindering the service.
"It was an overcast day and it rained for a little while but we still had about 40 to 45 people who came along," Beck said.
As the service grew in popularity and reached a new group of devotees, more and more people began participating in the walk. Now, the seven churches that are traveled to aren't the only ones represented in The Way of the Cross.
Chaplains from The Alverno, Mercy hospitals and the Salvation Army also joined in the dedication this year as well as four other churches from around the city, something Beck is amazed to see.
"This year we've picked up some of the auxilary churches that are not a part of the downtown area," she said. "It's really neat because it's really an opportunity to bring the whole community together."