PAXINOS - The public is invited to attend an annual Easter service at the "Old Rugged Cross" on the mountaintop overlooking Route 61 at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 19.

This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the cross being on the mountain and the 28th year of services there.

This year's guest speaker is Pastor Alan Tucker, of Lewisburg. Tucker is a 1966 graduate of Valley Forge Christian College in the Theology and Pastoral Preparation Program. He went on to Eastern Nazarene College and majored in religion and philosophy and graduated in 1968.

He was the pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in Columbia from 1968 to 1980 and led two building programs: the church and the Breezy View Christian School.

He was an associate pastor in Lancaster for two years while also owning and managing a business for 17 years.

He also held a position of adult Bible teacher for the Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill from 1995 to 2012, and at the same time, worked at WDAC Christian Radio Station, Lancaster.

He also hosted a live call-in radio show, "News and Current Events from a Biblical Perspective."

In 2012, he accepted the pastorate position at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Lewisburg.

In his spare time, he still enjoys most of the sports of his teen years, including outdoor activities and playing golf. He has also been known to drive a race car.

This year, Ed Heitzman, co-owner of Heitzman's Radiator, Glass and Parts, Inc., of Shamokin, will again provide special music.

Those wishing to attend are asked to meet at Clark's Grove Church, Irish Valley, at 1:30 p.m. and follow John Miller, former explorer advisor, to the cross. Fellowship and a hot dog roast over an open campfire will follow the service.

About the cross

Miller helped his Scouts place the first cross on the mountain in 1961. Miller has never missed an Easter service at the cross and also takes frequent hikes up the mountain. The cross stood for 25 years until the weather took its toll on the wood and it had to be replaced.

In 1986, Scoutmaster Harvey Buriak and his Scouts replaced the original cross. That year, they used a generator to create electricity for floodlights to illuminate the cross.

Every year since 1986, Boy Scout Troop 250 of Clark's Grove United Methodist Church, Irish Valley, which has taken responsibility for maintaining the cross, holds a weekend camp out on the mountain, closing with the public service held the Saturday before Easter.

In 1995, highly reflective material was affixed to the front of the cross. In 2007, a wall was installed to make a level area for the guest speaker to stand.

In 2011, 10 sets of bleachers were installed, allowing for seating of approximately 200 people.

Jeff Probst built a frame to keep the purple cloth that adorns the cross from blowing around in the wind.

In 2012, a transporter ATV was acquired to take physically challenged visitors to the service. In 2013, the parking lot was enlarged and a new access road was created to a nearby campsite, which was renamed "Camp David" in memory of David Stefanovige, who volunteered much of his time to keep the area clean and present the Easter service. Stefanovige also acquired a sound system for the service coordinated with WQSU 88.9 FM to provide a live broadcast. Stefanovige died in September 2011.

Last year, 375 people attended the service. Past guest speakers include state representatives, doctors, television personalities, reverends, missionaries, lay speakers and gospel singers.