Hot Springs Church Offers Ecumenical Stations of the Cross – Arkansas Catholic


The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church opens its doors to Christians to celebrate the new tradition of Lent

Posted: April 15, 2022

James Keary

Father George Sanders leads the Stations of the Cross for about 80 people during the Ecumenical Stations of the Cross at St. John the Baptist Church in Hot Springs on April 8.

About 80 people attended the Ecumenical Way of the Cross at St. John the Baptist Church on April 8.

Although parishioners were encouraged to bring non-Catholics who might be interested in Catholicism, early ecumenical Stations of the Cross seemed to be primarily church members.

“I thought it was a little different,” said parishioner and convert Jim Lockwood. “It was good to have different things. We went to St. Mary’s stations, and theirs were also different.

Father George Sanders, pastor of St. John’s Church who converted to Catholicism in 2003, said the ecumenical Stations of the Cross are based more on Scripture than Catholic tradition. The version titled “We Walk the Cross with Jesus” was published by the United Catholic-Methodist Dialogue of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Some of them said, ‘You’re so Christ-centered. It’s such a beautiful focus on Christ.

Father Sanders did not believe that many visitors attended the April 8 stations. This was the first year Father Sanders used an ecumenical Stations of the Cross.

“I had asked that people bring their friends and family who might have an interest in the Church,” Father Sanders said. “Most of the people tonight looked familiar to me. We may make some changes next year.

The version continues to use the 14 stations of the cross, as with the traditional stations, but the liturgy is more descriptive.

“We have united our hearts today with the offering of Jesus, your Son, so that living the faith of the Way of the Cross, we may also live with the hope of eternal life in his resurrection on the last day,” he said. begged Father Sanders in the opening.

The longest Lord’s Prayer, prayed by most Protestants, was included in the ecumenical version.

“There are a lot of things that a lot of non-Catholics will recognize,” he said.

Dennis Bratcher, an associate professor at Southern Nazarene University, wrote in “The Voice” that the Stations of the Cross were developed to enable devotion to Christ’s last hours to those who could not travel to Jerusalem to retrace the route of Jesus. He said most Protestants view crucifixion as an event in time, while Catholics view crucifixion as “God’s covenant with mankind.”

“Most Protestants, especially in the West, are accustomed to viewing the crucifixion of Jesus as an event that occurs at a certain time and in a certain place,” Bratcher wrote. “But it’s more than that. It’s a truth about God and how he works in the world with human beings. It’s the truth about God revealed in Jesus and his actions that provides us with an important touchstone for our own journey.

Earlier in the week, Father Sanders said he led an ecumenical Stations of the Cross with the Ministerial Alliance, a group of Hot Springs ministers who meet regularly. He said the Stations of the Cross gave them a better understanding of the Catholic Church.

“Some of them said, ‘You’re so Christ-centered,'” Father Sanders said. “It’s such a beautiful Christ-centeredness.”

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