Bruce Dole began his Saturday with a walk of biblical proportions or, to put it another way, with a cross to bear.
“There’s a lot of times in your life where you have nowhere else to turn, but you always have God,” said the Salem man, who was part of a six-man contingent that carried a 300-pound wooden cross 18 miles.
Four such teams took turns holding the cross as they walked along state Route 193 from about three miles north of Fowler to the Covelli Centre, downtown, which was the site of Saturday’s Men’s Rally in the Valley 2013 gathering.
The 18-mile distance was symbolic of Luke 10:30, a New Testament passage that is part of the Good Samaritan parable, which in part describes a man who was robbed as he walked 18 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho, then was taken to an inn and cared for.
A smaller group carried a second cross the same distance from Hermitage, Pa., to the center, noted Dole, whose sons, Kyle, 20, and Cody, 24, accompanied him on the arduous trek.
The elder Dole noted that Skip Siefert, a member of Hermitage-based Grace Chapel Community Church, conceptualized the idea.
Thirty-seven vendors, including several ministry tables, made up the seven-hour Christian interdenominational rally, themed “Iron Sharpens Iron” from Proverbs 27:17. The event, in its fourth year, also featured six speakers and numerous praise and worship bands, as well as musicians from area churches.
The rally’s main purposes were to provide the men fellowship with one another while giving them an opportunity to make a commitment to Jesus Christ and be challenged to make positive differences beyond their church walls, noted Walter “Bing” Newton, event coordinator.
An estimated 3,000 people representing 50 to 60 churches and 12 to 15 Christian denominations in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys attended the gathering, noted Bob Weber, Newton’s press secretary.
For more on the event, read Sunday's Vindicator or Vindy.com.