March 29th, 2007 5:33 pm | by Kyle Cassidy News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Jesus Ain't Square


Mel Gibson, eat your heart out.

A tie-die shirt wearin' Jesus is scheduled to make an appearance in Portland's "living room" Easter weekend. But don't expect the Christian savior to be playing hacky-sac.

As played by Vancouver resident and event organizer David Newton, Jesus will be all business.

Shouldering a 12-foot cross (with a wheel on the bottom), Newton will lead 15-20 participants throughout downtown for an Easter celebration of the Passion of Christ (The Passion is Jesus' alleged march up Golgotha to be crucified in case you missed Gibson's blockbuster). The celebration will be full of marching as volunteers walk throughout the city distributing free lunches to the hungry of stomach and fliers about Christianity to the famished of soul.

“I'm not pretending to be Jesus – just carrying the cross,” says Newton, who is funding the bulk of the $2,000 production budget out of pocket. Participants in the reenactment will be wearing tie-die shirts with a Christian slogan on the back. “We don't want to be perceived as Jesus freaks,” says Newton. “Even though the shirts say ‘Jesus freak' on the back.”

According to Newton, the “cross walk” kicks off Saturday, April 7 at 11am with a prayer by the Union Gospel Mission. Participants will then march around the city from Pioneer Courthouse Square to I-405, to the Burnside Bridge where volunteers will share their passion for Christianity before heading back to Pioneer Square. There, the cross will be erected on a stand to the sounds of an a-capella choir. And a pastor will be ready to receive anyone who wants to commit their life to Christ. Newton has even teamed up with the Gideons, who will take time out from marketing their product at hotels to pass out bibles at the event.

“It's just about remembering Christ on Easter weekend” says Newton, who admits the event is unlikely to be graced by local celebrities. “I would give up my role and very gladly let Lars Larson carry the cross if you want to invite him.”

This is the 3rd annual celebration of the Passion in downtown Portland. Newton estimates that last year the volunteers gave away 100 meals and that another 100 people walked past the event. “We really want a non-threatening, non-denominational venue that college students on spring break, homeless people and anyone coming through Pioneer Courthouse Square could come to,” says Newton, extending an invitation to The Passion of Christ director Mel Gibson as well.

Editors note: The Passion celebration will be held at Pioneer Courthouse Square April 7th from 11am-2pm.
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