PAXINOS - Under sunny skies, more than 300 people made the trek up the Paxinos Mountain for the annual Easter Service at the Cross sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 250.

The cross, which is visible from Route 61 heading toward Paxinos, has been a poignant and powerful fixture atop the mountain during the Easter season for the past 53 years. This year's service was the 27th edition; it wasn't held in 1994 because the grounds were inaccessible due to heavy snow cover.

"It's another beautiful day here, an answer

to our prayers," organizer Harvey Buriak said. "We've been praying since last year's service for good weather, and now we have it. We will start praying tomorrow for good weather for next year's service."

Saturday's service at the cross featured several speakers, including John Miller, the former Explorer Scout adviser who led the Scouts in placing the cross for the first time in 1961. Miller hasn't missed a service there since the tradition began.

"We all carried the pieces of unfinished wood up the trail and put the cross up, I think the rigging is the original rigging from back then," said Marty Reigle, who was one of the original Scouts.

"To shine the light, we carried two headlights and a car battery up the face of the mountain," George Nye, another original Scout, said. "This is always a special place for all of us, a place we can look up to and enjoy God's great work."

Alan Tucker, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church, of Lewisburg, guest speaker, offered his own perspective on resurrection by speaking about his own near-death experiences following a head-on collision.

"I laid there with nine broken bones and felt myself going away," Tucker said. "The sound of them cutting me out of the car woke me up. When I got to the emergency room, I could hear my own flatliner before I left, but they hit me with the paddles and got me back," Tucker said.

Tucker, who died once again on the operating table following that accident, spoke about seeing the white light and feeling himself floating on air, before coming back.

"I asked the doctor how long I was out because I thought it was something like 30 seconds. The doctor told me they worked on me for two hours before I came back," the pastor said.

Tucker said he wondered why God had brought him back from death. That answer came, he said, when he was asked to be the pastor for the Lewisburg church.

"God has a plan for all of us, and the Book of Revelation tells us that we will rise again when the trumpet will sound," he said. "The question is, are you ready for it?"

The crowd also heard from Scout Dexter Haight, who spoke about about being saved and letting Jesus into his heart.

"When Jesus Christ went onto the cross, He did it to absorb our sins and die, so that we all may live," Haight said. "He has said to us, 'I will forgive you, and I will change you, if you come to the cross.'"

The service featured musical selections from Ted Heitzman and Ed Begis, who led the crowd in the familiar hymn that has been the theme of the service for many years - "The Old Rugged Cross."

Following the service, the Scouts provided hot dogs and baked goods to those in attendance.

Boy Scout Troop 250 gave special thanks to the following for their help in preparing for this year's service: Knoebels Amusement Resort, Don Purcell, Ed Heitzman, Ed Begis, Bob Hile, Eleanor Shervinskie, Chuck Hopta, Jeff Probst and John Kurtz, Ryan Shevitski, Joe Long, Ted Heitzman, John Miller and Adam Richardson.