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Rev. Linda Johnson, associate seasonal pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church has instituted “Journey to the Cross” which, for the second year, will be held on Good Friday, from 3 to 7 p.m. This is an experiential, hands-on opportunity that, according to organizers, will allow attendees to experience Jesus’ final hours.
According to Johnson, “Journey to the Cross” didn’t originate as her idea.
“It resonated with me because I knew the Catholic tradition of the Stations of the Cross and really believe that Good Friday needs to be a day in which people concentrate on what was done for them on that day when Jesus went to the cross,” Johnson stated.
She bases the Journey on the seven last sentences of Jesus as he experienced human death. Seven different stations or rooms will each have its own activity and devotional where people will have a chance to see, touch, taste, smell, hear and receive, a part of what actually went on 2,000 years ago.
Various rooms in the church will be used, starting in Fellowship Hall with the final station in the sanctuary at the altar. Arrows on the floor will direct people from one station to the next. Music will also be playing in various areas.
“Anyone can come to do this. Persons in wheelchairs can come. Pick up a devotional, enter a station, and spend as much time as you need. Read silently to yourself or read to a child. After spending time in prayer, you’ll proceed to the next station,” Johnson explained. “It really is a personal journey that you can take and listen to the words that Jesus spoke before he died. They’re words of forgiveness and entrusting yourself to God. As the individual person reads, you and others at the station will be picturing in your mind those words of Jesus.”
Last year approximately 120 people from all different faiths participated.
“It’s free and is definitely meant to be a city-wide opportunity. ‘Journey to the Cross’ can touch anyone, from a child to a teenager to an older person. There is something there for everyone.”
The “Journey” will have some competition from the outside world because the church will also be holding an Arts and Crafts show outdoors while “Journey” is taking place within the church.
“I find that very profound because we are to be in the world but not of the world. I don’t see them being in conflict with each other,” Johnson said.
As associate pastor, Johnson spends seven months at Zionsville United Methodist Church in Zionsville, Ind., where she is from. The Bishop in Indiana assigned her to be an associate pastor at Wesley United for five months. “People think I have the best of both worlds, and I’m in agreement,” Johnson commented.
Earning a Master of Divinity Degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Johnson has been a minister since 2000. She went around the world with her husband and raised four children. When the last one went to college, she ‘let the cat out of the bag’ and told her husband she was really feeling a call to go to the seminary.
At age 48, she did just that and graduated in two and a half years. Johnson has been doing active ministry ever since. She will be assisting Pastor Jim Lake at Wesley United Methodist Church until May when she will return to Zionsville Methodist Church to continue her pastoral duties until her return to Marco Island next season.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 350 Barfield Drive South. For further information, contact Rev. Linda Johnson at 394-3734.