By LINDA M. LINONIS
The Rev. Ernest Ellis reflected that the “Seven Steps to the Cross” presentation will help people “remember the greatest sacrifice.”
The program at 4 p.m. today, Palm Sunday, at Antioch Baptist Church, is a vehicle “to help people get reconnected into a right relationship with God,” the church pastor said.
“We’re remembering this great sacrifice,” the Rev. Mr. Ellis said, adding, “We want to be in right standing.”
The pastor said the presentation has been a tradition of the church for more than 20 years. It was originated by the late Virginia Divers, a charter member, and the late Deacon Andrew Rushing. Mr. Ellis remembers participating as a young minister.
“The intent was to give young ministers an opportunity to preach publicly,” Mr. Ellis said. That purpose still applies, he said, noting the seven ministers who will speak are newly licensed.
Mr. Ellis said the Palm Sunday program is a “prelude to the Resurrection.”
The ministers will speak and share Scripture, and the Gospel Choir will sing at various intervals. Each speaker will have up to 10 minutes at the podium.
“It’s about the events that lead up to the cross,” Mr. Ellis said.
Tammy Taylor, choir director, explained that the steps are the necessity of the cross, the prophecy of the cross, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal and denial, the trial of Jesus and the agony of the cross.
What’s said will be punctuated by choir selections including “Oh What Love” and “Hosannah.”
“The program is intended to make people realize when Christ went to the cross — what he did for us,” Taylor said.
Reginald “Reggie” Smith, minister of music, oversees the musical participation and teaches choir members various parts.
He’s been in his position at the church since 1999, when he returned to Youngstown. His musical background includes attending Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music in the 1980s.
Smith said he selects the music for worship and special events but welcomes input by choir participants. “If they’ve been blessed or touched by a song, they suggest it,” he said.
“Music is a great enhancement to worship,” Smith said. “If people feel depressed or oppressed, it’s uplifting to their spirits.”
He added, “I think it helps people get through the week.”
The music minister said the combination of “a great choir and preacher add up to a great church.”