Attendees of the annual Community Good Friday Service will follow the steps of Jesus of Nazareth to the cross.

In fact, the service, planned for noon Friday and to last less than an hour at The Commons in downtown Columbus, will include what many Christians know as stations of the cross — 14 moments of Jesus’ suffering on the way to and including his execution and burial. The theme is, “The Way of the Cross,” and includes his carrying the cross, his clothes bring stripped and other occurrences from the Gospels.

Each year, the nondenominational gathering, organized by the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches, attracts about 300 people from more than 20 area churches. Elizabeth Kestler, executive director of the Love Chapel food pantry linked to the assembly, mentioned that the service is significant in a sometimes-splintered world.

“It represents a diverse body of our Christian churches, and it marks a time when we can get together (to worship),” Kestler said. “It’s the atmosphere of this whole community — the willingness to come together, to work together, to pray together.

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“And we also have activities like the National Day of Prayer and its Bible reading on the City Hall steps. So we have a lot of events that bring the churches together.”

The Rev. Marc Vance, rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, has organized the service. For the sake of time and space, worshipers will remain seated as Vance leads them from one scene to another. At some churches, believers normally walk from one place in a church to another place to symbolically retrace Jesus’ journey.

Yet, Vance is hoping to find a way to gradually darken The Commons’ upstairs’ area bit by bit. That will be to signify Christians’ savior, known to them as the light of the world, being put to death.

“The idea is to get people’s attention with the diminishing light,” Vance said.

The service also will include music, though those details still are being finalized. Vance, like Kestler, is heartened by the sense of unity in the local Christian community.

“It’s fine for many of us to have our different denominations and different traditions,” Vance said. “But all of us collectively as a greater whole are in one way or another about the Gospel.

“And as the church (at large) comes together, it makes this a more powerful service.”

The way of the cross

What: Annual nondenominational Community Good Friday service organized by the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches.

When: Noon Friday, lasting less than an hour.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus.

Theme: “The Way of the Cross,” following Jesus through 14 scenes of suffering before his execution.

Information: Love Chapel at 812-372-9421.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.