Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 31, 2013

Youth group follows ‘The way of the cross’

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Click here for video

Hunter Furrow kept his head bowed down as he carried a cross on his shoulder on the side of the eastbound lanes of the Bluefield-Tazewell Road. A group of about 25 young people from East River Church started a 15-mile journey Saturday afternoon to raise awareness of the true meaning of Easter and to raise support for missionaries worldwide.

Furrow, a sophomore at Graham High School, was a man of few words. In response to a question as to whether or not he was thinking of Jesus Christ’s walk to Calvary Hill as he walked toward Bluefield, he said simply: “Always.”

In response to a question about the weight of the cross drug through Jerusalem compared to the cross that Furrow was carrying, he said: “If it was as heavy, I would still carry it,” he said.

Halea Fowler, a freshman at GHS was carrying a second cross in the group. “It makes me realize what Easter is actually about,” Fowler said. “This really hurts,” she added as she carried the cross up the grade leading to the Bluefield, Va., town limits.

Sarah Dickens, youth pastor of East River Church, said the youth walked 10 miles last year, but the plan was to walk 15 miles this year. “We’re trying to bring awareness of the cross to everyone in the community,” she said as she walked on the sidewalk through the West Graham section of Bluefield, Va. “Watch your step,” she said, pointing to a drop-off on the sidewalk. “I almost fell there last year.”

Dickens started the pre-Easter walks 10 years ago when she was serving as youth pastor at a church in Raven, Va. She moved to East River Church three years ago, and started the walk tradition in Bluefield last year.

Dickens said that the youth have been raising funds to support “Speed the Light,” an organization that helps meet transportation needs for missionaries and communications tools to support missionaries worldwide. “We’re excited about supporting Speed the Light,” she said.

The group of walkers made their way into Virginia’s Tallest Town under the watchful eye of Deputy Bill Asbury of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office.

“I started doing this eight years ago when Sarah was down at Raven,” Asbury said. “Any more, she asks for me to help. It’s one of those things that once it gets in your gears, you keep going with it. You know how it is when you get started with a tradition.”

The youth will resume their walk this morning at 8 a.m. and arrive at the church in time to participate in services at 9 a.m.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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