Seymour churches unite for Holy Week services, Cross Walk


Every step she took, Paula Ballman thought about Jesus’ walk while bearing the weight of the cross.

On Good Friday, local residents took turns carrying a large wooden cross from Bethel Community Church at Calvin Boulevard and Fourth Street to First United Methodist Church at Third and Ewing streets.

Ballman said she participated to show her Lord that she remembers that he suffered.

“He carried that cross and he got on that cross and suffered and died and showed his great love, showed that I could be free, that I could have hope,” the Seymour woman said. “He loves me through this journey on Earth because he promised me a mansion in the sky.”

When she got tired during Friday’s walk, Ballman turned her thoughts to what Jesus endured.

“Jesus was beaten to a pulp … and that’s all I can think about,” she said. “I don’t have any right to moan and groan. It certainly gives perspective. I don’t know actually how far he had to walk and carry that cross and be humiliated and mocked.”

As the walk came to an end Friday, Ballman said she appreciated Bethel Community Church, First United Methodist Church, Rockford United Methodist Church, Seymour Harvest Church, Trinity United Methodist Church and First Church of God coming together for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services and the Cross Walk.

“Jesus said that our hearts and minds should be one just as him and the father are one, and so I believe our churches should come together and worship in one body — the body of Christ,” Ballman said. “We set aside our little ways and our little rituals and just come together, and we’re all praising the same God.”

Friday’s event opened with prayer, song and scripture reading at Bethel.

The Rev. Teresa Poole of First United Methodist Church led the prayer.

“Today, as we sing, as we read your scripture, as we carry this cross, may it be an opportunity to edify all of us and also all of those who see us as we go down the street carrying the cross, may they pause and think about this day,” Poole said.

“Maybe they forgot what today was, Lord, and may they pause and say, ‘Oh yeah, what was that? What is that cross?’ and may it edify them because we’re not putting on a show, Lord,” she said. “We are here to share the good news once again in a new way because God is always doing something new.”

Poole has only been at the Seymour church since July 2021, but she said she is glad to see the local churches unite.

“There’s so much in the news about what’s different between the churches, and they nitpick about all of these different things, and instead, we need to be focusing on what’s in common, and what’s in common is Jesus,” she said. “It’s always what’s in common, and instead of nitpicking on the little things, we need to be demonstrating, so this is what it is. We’re demonstrating we all have a love for Jesus.”

The Cross Walk wasn’t just for the participants, she said. It was for other people to see.

“People are working on Good Friday now. Used to be, it was a holiday, and people don’t give the significance to it that they used to,” Poole said. “By doing this, you help open eyes once again and remember so that they remember.”

The Rev. Angel Armstrong of Trinity United Methodist Church said with the churches united, they are stronger.

Pastor Gary Dyer of Seymour Harvest Church agreed.

“There are 114 churches in Seymour and Jackson County. If we got unified, ain’t a devil in hell could come against us,” he said. “They could see the different denominations, but there’s one faith. We’re out here together, different churches, different colors. There’s one color, one blood. They see us together.”

After more prayer, song and scripture reading at First United Methodist Church, Pastor Sondra Gentry of Bethel Community Church told attendees to pick up a copy of “The Bible Promise Book” so they can easily look up a promise they feel on any given day.

She, too, said it’s great to see the local churches uniting.

“In this day and time with all that’s going on in our country, the church has to unite,” she said. “We have to show people how to come together and care about one another, rather than hold old grudges, argue and fight. We can’t do that, so the church has to lead in that unity. I’m really, really on the bandwagon about that. If we can’t do that, then there isn’t anything for us, and how are we going to go to heaven fighting?”

The Bible says there’s not going to be fighting or arguing in heaven, she said.

“So we’ve got to get that taken care of here,” Gentry said. “We can’t hold grudges. We can’t get angry. We have to learn to forgive.”

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