SALT LAKE CITY — "Who would carry the cross of Christ?"
The invitation was uttered several times in front of Christian congregation meetinghouses Friday. Each time, earnest volunteers raised their hands, glad to immerse themselves in the hallowed Procession of the Cross, a ceremony held in commemoration of Good Friday.
In Salt Lake City, members of several faiths have united for the Procession of the Cross every year on Good Friday since 1983. The procession is symbolic of the path Jesus Christ walked while carrying the cross at the time of his crucifixion.
About 100 worshippers from several Christian dominations participated in songs, prayer and scriptural readings at churches throughout downtown. In between the stops, volunteers took turns carrying a large wooden cross in front of the group.
"(The procession) recreates the final steps of Jesus," said the Rev. Ray Waldon, dean of the Cathedral of St. Mark. "Jesus had poignant moments, recognized by the church, in his walk. What we're saying is, we all must carry the cross of Christ into the world."
Waldon, an Episcopal leader, was joined in the procession by leaders from the First Presbyterian Church, Crossroads Urban Center, First Baptist Church and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mark.
"You see so many faces from so many faiths," Waldon said. "It's just a symbol of unity."
Others echoed similar sentiments about the meaning of the Easter season ritual. Jessica Roadman, representing the Crossroads Urban Center, offered a prayer on behalf of those gathered that would find strengthened conviction to follow Christ.
"We represent your body, scattered and divided, but united in yearning," Roadman said in her prayer.
She also prayed for healing and change on the part of wider society. She addressed "brokenness and injustice" as problems that exist in the world today.
"Spark in our hearts the desire to spread your message of equal dignity," Roadman prayed.
Marti Jones, who was participating in the Salt Lake processional for the first time in several years, said she hoped to reflect on what her and others' role might be at the time of Jesus. Many people living in modern times also would have crucified Him, Jones said.
"This is a way of remembering that it was for us," she said. "Jesus was the ultimate scapegoat."
Sina Snow attended the Procession of the Cross as a member of the First United Methodist Church. Snow said her father is a reverend and that when she was younger, she only attended the procession because it was what was expected. Now that she is older and has children, however, the ceremony has becoming deeply meaningful to her.
"Every time Easter comes around, I take it as a second chance," Snow said. "It's a chance (to be) reborn, start again with a clean slate."