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Reliving Christ's burden
Local church ‘bears cross’ in fundraiser
Carrying Cross 5 es
Pastor Jason Rodenbeck laughs as he and Debbie Whigham, left, tape a sign to the shirt of 8-year-old Harrison Stewart. - photo by Emily Saunders
One local church encouraged its members to go beyond remembering Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion for the Easter holiday.

More than a dozen Christians shouldered the weight of a 75-pound cross through downtown Cumming late afternoon on Good Friday as stormy weather loomed.

Castle Christian Church held the event to raise money for an organization that builds housing for homeless people in metro Atlanta.

Raising funds for charity was part of a three-fold effect, according to Senior Minister Jason Rodenbeck.

“It gives us the chance to share in the experience of Jesus Christ,” Rodenbeck said. “It gives us the opportunity to share our message with the community as well.”

Rodenbeck was one of many to pull the 7-foot cross through downtown, while the Cumming Police Department ensured the group’s safety from traffic.

Church members met across from Goodson Drug and circled the city on a 3.5-mile trek.

Castle Christian Church member Rebecca Stewart said the event was planned to raise money for HomeAid Atlanta, a nonprofit organization working with the Greater Atlanta Builders Association.

“In today’s economic times, there’s no place for a family who has lost their home,” Stewart said, adding that the church plans to help HomeAid get offices in Forsyth County.

Church members who raised more than $50 got a chance to pull the cross for several minutes which had wheels built into its base. They wore “Simon” signs, representing Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry the cross. Members who raised $30 walked alongside as “Mary” or “John,” representing the Biblical characters.

Stewart said her husband, Stephen Stewart, planned to carry the cross Friday as she walked at his side.

She said despite the wheels built into the cross, it was still a heavy load to carry.

“When you bear a cross, it ain’t easy,” Stewart said.

Rodenbeck said the cross was built originally with a “fairly dense wood, but we used a lighter wood to lighten it” for the final model.
He said the church plans to make the walk a yearly event.

“We’re doing what Jesus said to do in a very literal sense,” Rodenbeck said. “I’ve been looking forward to this. It means a lot.”

E-mail Frank Reddy at