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“The reception has been really good the last three years ,” their youth pastor said.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Victoria Heare of Bedford County carries a wooden cross along Campbell Avenue Southeast with a group from New Covenant Assembly of God in Roanoke on Friday. Joshua Crouse, youth pastor, said that one purpose of the walk was to raise money for a missionary organization.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Stormy Eanes of Roanoke carries a wooden cross along Campbell Avenue Southeast on Friday with a group from New Covenant Assembly of God.
]JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Victoria Heare of Bedford County lifts a wooden cross that she was carrying to Vinton with a group from the New Covenant Assembly of God in Roanoke on Friday
Friday, March 29, 2013
The sight of them slowed traffic, drivers craning their necks to catch a glimpse. Some people even honked.
It’s not every Friday a band of teenagers will march between Roanoke and Vinton, lugging wooden crosses over their shoulders for miles.
Good Friday, though? That’s an occasion. Enough for some of the teens to use religious exemption as a pass to get out of classes to join in the march. They walked 8 miles in all, a jostling, kinetic clump making their way down Campbell Avenue — all smiles and jokes.
Joshua Crouse , a youth pastor at New Covenant Assembly of God , walked with them.
“The reception has been really good the last three years we’ve done it,” Crouse said.
He glanced over to one of the 10-pound crosses.
“Probably the biggest problem is making sure we don’t hit anybody with them,” he said, joking.
The teens belong to Epicenter Youth Ministries , a program within Crouse’s church. They said they walked with three purposes in mind: to be witnesses for the community, to raise money for a missionary organization, and to try to connect with what Jesus Christ went through during his cross-bearing.
Victoria Heare , 18, hoisted one of the crosses over her back and set a steady pace for herself. A home-school student, Heare said she has been a member of New Covenant for about a year. She said she was pleased to join the group walking Friday.
“People see it and they can say, ‘Oh, that’s amazing,’ ” she said.
Five steps ahead of her, Kurt Alois , 15, echoed Heare’s enthusiasm. Alois said he likes his interaction with the group, but especially enjoys its social aspects. Crouse explained that building strong relationships within the youth group is a priority — one strengthened by the Good Friday activity.
Heare said the group also uses the walk as an opportunity to raise money for Speed the Light , an outreach program that provides sound equipment and vehicles for missionaries. She said her group set a $12,000 goal for the year, with much of the funds slated to go toward the missionary effort.
The day before, they spent much of their evening at Roanoke Rescue Mission, speaking to people there about their religious experiences. It was a good way to prepare for the walk, Crouse said, from the rear of the line.
A man drove by in a pickup truck, leaned out the window and waved. The teens followed suit, not skipping a beat as they continued down a sun-soaked street and onward to Vinton.
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