By LINDA M. LINONIS
Words about the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary were spoken, shouted and sung during a community worship service in observance of Holy Week sponsored by Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Youngstown and Vicinity.
The event, hosted Tuesday by Greater Friendship Baptist Church, 646 Lakewood Ave., attracted about 200 people who listened to commentary and music relating to the theme “HIS Finest Week.” The topic examined the events that led to Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection.
The Rev. James Bowie, pastor of the host church, thanked all the denominations who “gathered under one God to contemplate what our suffering Savior did.”
Elder Rose Carter introduced the speakers and noted that the “hosannas turned to ‘crucify him’ in a few short days.”
The Rev. Robert Offerdahl described himself as a “relief preacher” in that he assumed double duty, substituting for the Rev. Eugene Schoolfield, who was ill, in addition to his own part.
“There was a lot of teaching that week,” said Pastor Offerdahl, who serves Coitsville Presbyterian Church and Native American Missions, a Dakota Presbytery Mission project. But, he added, that teaching underscored Jesus’ ministry of the previous three years.
Pastor Offerdahl urged participants to follow the example of “Native American brothers and sisters who taught me to listen to the sounds of creation.” The minister urged the faithful to take time “to listen to creation sing.”
Pastor Offerdahl said Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was triumphant; it is celebrated now as Palm Sunday. Jesus knew what was to come. The pastor said many people, including himself, face their mortality when health issues confront them. “Jesus weeps over our city,” he said. “Have we missed what needs to be done?”
Pastor Offerdahl continued that on Monday, Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple. Jesus said, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” from Matthew 21:13.
The pastor continued that the next day, Jesus engaged the Herodians, Sadducees and Pharisees. “They all hated one another,” Pastor Offerdahl said, “But they hated Jesus more.” Their questions to Jesus were meant to entangle him.
The pastor said Scripture doesn’t have a reference to Jesus’ whereabouts on Wednesday. “I personally believe he was apart from the crowds and alone with God the Father,” he said.
Evangelist Krista Tyson of Calvary Ministries International talked about the “shadows to come” that are recounted in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. She noted the Last Supper at which Jesus “had last fellowship” with His followers.
Tyson told the group that Jesus was the ultimate “teacher and preacher.” She continued that “loneliness showed up before the cross” and after. But Jesus is “the truth and the light.”
Pastor Sylvia Jennings of Oak Baptist Church, issued a call to discipleship. She asked those in attendance if they “wanted to be part of the kingdom.” Then she challenged them with the question “Will you come? .... and be the light in the community.”
The Rev. Dr. Lewis W. Macklin, IMA president and pastor of Holy Trinity Baptist Church, said, “This was his finest week and hour. He was a servant.”
The Rev. Dr. Macklin echoed Pastor Offerdahl’s words about listening. “Find a special place ... away from the noise ... and steal away to Jesus,” he urged. “God embraces us with His abiding presence. Let us keep Jesus on our hearts and tell His story to the world. He redeemed us and protects us.”
The Rev. Ernest Ellis, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, offered the invocation. The Rev. J. Dwayne Heard, pastor of Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church, accepted the offering. Elder Cynthia Wright Palmer was program committee chairwoman. Music was presented by Sandra Miles, St, James Church of God in Christ praise team, Greater Friendship Baptist Church Choir and Emancipation Community Choir directed by J. Luke Shumpert.