Lisa Moor, who moved to Unicoi County with her husband, Rob, several years ago, admits that when she first heard about the Witness Walk, it was an unusual concept to her.
“At first I thought it was really strange because we had never seen it done before,” she said.
But for the sixth straight year, Moor and her husband — joined this year by their three grandchildren — took part in what has become an annual Good Friday tradition in Erwin.
“After we participated the first time, I though it was a good showing of solidarity for churches to stand up for exactly why we celebrate Easter,” Moor said. “It’s exciting just to see so many Christians from different faiths come together to portray and remember what Jesus did for us on Good Friday.”
More than 100 people made the symbolic journey through Erwin in Friday’s event, which is co-sponsored by the Unicoi County Ministerial Association and the Erwin Kiwanis Club. The Witness Walk began at the Erwin Food Lion location and ended around a mile away at Centenary United Methodist Church on Elm. The large wooden cross hoisted and carried during the walk represents the journey Jesus was forced to make as he carried his cross to the place of his crucifixion.
There are also several stops along the route, at which time local ministers recited the last seven words of Christ from the cross. These stops also prayers and hymns include “At the Cross” and “Oh How He Loves You and Me.”
The walk got its start around 15 years ago and Ralph Crass, pastor of First Assembly of God in Erwin and member of the Unicoi County Ministerial Association, said he has been to “practically every one of them.”
“It’s a great way to witness for Jesus Christ, to uphold his name,” Crass said of the event.
Dr. Allen Rogers, another long-time participant in the walk, agreed the event is a way to honor Jesus. He expressed appreciation for having the opportunity to be able to take part in the tradition.
“In my religion, this is the most important day other than Sunday,” Rogers said. “Just the freedom we can express in this little community, that means so much. It’s been taken for granted in a lot of places.”
Among the crowd was several first-time attendees. Edd Bolton said he had wanted to attend the event since its inception, but Friday was his first opportunity to do so. Bolton said he was impressed with the number of children who made the walk alongside adults.
“A lot of kids don’t know the Lord just because their parents have to work and the divorce situation, so America is failing in getting to know Christ. I think that’s where we need to turn things around,” he said.
Lorraine Whitson and Carolyn Birchfield were also first-time attendees and heard about the walk while attending Grace United Methodist Church. Both agreed that it was important that they take part.
“It was the least we could do after all he did for us,” Whitson said.
A luncheon and service at Centenary United Methodist Church followed the walk.