Record attendance at Service of the Cross
PAXINOS - "On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suff'ring and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best. For a world of lost sinners was slain."
These words, the beginning of the hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross," were sung by 375 people, another record crowd, who attended the annual Service at the Cross. The service, traditionally held on Easter Saturday near the top of the Paxinos
Mountain, is hosted by Boy Scout Troop 250.
The cross, which is visible from Route 61 coming into Paxinos, has been placed on the mountain during the Easter season for the past 52 years. This year's service was the 26th edition; it wasn't held in 1994 because the grounds were inaccessible due to heavy snow cover.
"It seems like every day we have been praying for good weather, and now we finally have it," organizer Harvey Buriak said in his opening remarks. The crowd was treated to blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the 40s.
At the start of the service started, Buriak was honored for his 45 years of Scouting leadership and his efforts in planning the service since it began in 1987.
Scout leader Kevin Shervinskie spoke about Buriak's leadership in getting the grounds ready for the service and constantly improving them.
"Harvey is a leader who leads by example," Shervinskie said. "The cross provides a light in us, but it is Harvey's spirit that lights up the cross."
Buriak was honored by several dignitaries in attendance, including State Reps. Kurt Masser and Lynda Schlegel-Culver, Northumberland County Commissioner Richard Shoch and Shamokin Township Supervisor John Klinger.
Masser and Culver passed on not only a citation from the State House of Representatives for Buriak, but one from the state Senate from Sen. John Gordner.
"He is truly an example for his Scouts, showing them the best qualities of the human spirit," Culver read from Gordner's citation.
Masser also read a letter from Congressman Lou Barletta, calling Buriak "an incredible asset to the community," by preserving the tradition of the cross.
Klinger announced the Shamokin Township supervisors proclaimed Saturday as Harvey Buriak Day in the township.
"This is all about the Scouts and the leaders, not me," Buriak said. "All I do is delegate what the Lord's work is."
The return guest speaker for the service was Dave Kyllonen, who brought with him two fellow ministers in music, Duane Nicholson and Neil Enloe, three original members of the gospel group, The Couriers, to perform a concert.
"We have played in about 10,000 churches in our careers, but this may be the biggest church we've ever performed in," Kyllonen said. "The ceiling here goes all the way up to the heavens."
Attendees enjoyed the concert, clapping along and singing some of the old hymns that were part of their song, "The Country Church."
Following the concert, Kyllonen preached, telling the story of Easter through the eyes of Pontius Pilate and how Pilate wrote a letter to Caesar Tiberius about Jesus.
"I watched this man and spoke to him, and all he wanted to talk about was me," Kyllonen said as Pilate. "I've looked at him and saw he has the eyes and the hands of a king, and I will not lift a finger to him unless I am commanded to do so."
He then spoke about how the crowd let Barabbas free and yelled to crucify Jesus Christ.
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him! That is what they shouted, and it echoes as loud today as it does back then when we are not part of the living church and we are AWOL from worshipping him." Kyllonen said. "Make this Easter the day you come back to the Church and back to Jesus."
Following the service, the Scouts provided hot dogs and baked goods for those in attendance.
Boy Scout Troop 250 gave special thanks to the following for their help in preparing for this year's service: Buddy Knoebel, Vought's Equipment Rental, Don Purcell, Bob and Peg Yarger, Ed Heitzman, Ed Begis, Bob Hile, Eleanor Shervinskie, Chuck Hopta, Jeff Probst and John Kurtz, Adam Krushinski, Ryan Shevitski, Joe Long, Ted Heitzman, John Miller and Adam Richardson.