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Celebrating Easter: Good Good Friday continues to unite faith community – Maryville Daily Times

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The Awake21 Mass Choir includes members from across denominational lines in Blount County. The choir will sing during the Good Good Friday Celebration April 15 at the Greenbelt Amphitheater in Maryville.
A CrossWalk will be part of the Good Good Friday Celebration on April 15, in which teens will carry a cross from Hickory Valley Baptist Church on W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville, to the Greenbelt Amphitheater in Maryville. A second group will leave Rest Haven Baptist Church in Alcoa, both meeting at the amphitheater between 5 and 5:30 p.m.
Billy (left) and Dana Arnett are two members of the team of music directors leading the Awake21 Mass Choir.

Life columnist
The Awake21 Mass Choir includes members from across denominational lines in Blount County. The choir will sing during the Good Good Friday Celebration April 15 at the Greenbelt Amphitheater in Maryville.
A CrossWalk will be part of the Good Good Friday Celebration on April 15, in which teens will carry a cross from Hickory Valley Baptist Church on W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville, to the Greenbelt Amphitheater in Maryville. A second group will leave Rest Haven Baptist Church in Alcoa, both meeting at the amphitheater between 5 and 5:30 p.m.
Billy (left) and Dana Arnett are two members of the team of music directors leading the Awake21 Mass Choir.
Blount County’s observance of Good Friday 2022 will take on a new dimension as worshippers, regardless of denomination, gather together for a time of family fun, fellowship, music and worship in what organizers promise will be a celebration unlike any other.
Good Good Friday, sponsored by the Faith and Family Coalition of Blount County and Awake21, will be held 4-7 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the Greenbelt Amphitheater near the Blount County Courthouse. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
The celebration begins with an Easter egg hunt from 4 to 5 p.m. for children ages 2 to 8. Teens will participate in a CrossWalk from two different locations, arriving at the amphitheater between 5 and 5:30 p.m. as RIO Fire provides music. The service will include the Awake21 Mass Choir, directed by Billy Arnett, and a message by guest speaker Raymond Hodge. Communion will be served to conclude the service.
Arnett, worship director at RIO Townsend, said the Easter egg hunt may be one of the largest in East Tennessee. “It may even be the largest in the state of Tennessee,” Arnett said. “We’re talking thousands of eggs. The last count I heard was 12,500.”
The CrossWalk, in which groups carry a cross down public highways, will begin early that morning at Hickory Valley Baptist Church, 3920 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. The group will stop for lunch at RIO Central, 370 S. Long Hollow Road, Maryville, before continuing to the amphitheater. “In the first week, we had 120 young people sign up to carry the cross,” Arnett said.
A second CrossWalk will be led by Pastor Richard Turney, beginning at Rest Haven Baptist Church, 224 E. Watt St., Alcoa. “He’s done this for about 10 years. About 20 people will be walking with him,” Arnett said. “He’s coming up Hall Road and by Maryville College to the amphitheater. So, they’ll be coming in from two different directions and timing it out so they arrive about the same time.”
Music will begin at 5 p.m. with RIO Fire, the worship team at RIO Townsend, before the Awake21 Mass Choir sings.
The Awake21 Mass Choir includes people from several different denominations. Joining Arnett in directing the choir are Grant Story, Broadway Baptist; Joshua Duke, East Maryville Baptist; Beth Green, Alcoa First United Methodist; Darrell Fain, RIO Revolution, Preston Garner, Everett Hills Baptist; and Arnett’s wife, Dana Arnett, RIO Townsend. “We’re making up the team of directors,” Arnett said. “We’ve got a lot of other directors that are part of this. We’ve called on worship directors from across the county to help us out. We don’t think this is going to be the last event — as a matter of fact, we think this is the beginning. We’re looking forward to the mass choir going on and doing other events for Awake21. It’s amazing.”
Anyone who would like to join the mass choir is welcome to do so. Visit Awake21.com to register or contact Arnett at awake21mc@yahoo.com for more information. The next rehearsal is scheduled for April 11 prior to the event on April 15. Arnett said he’s hoping for a 200-member mass choir.
“At the first rehearsal, we had over 100 people,” Arnett said. “It was amazing to hear all those voices. It surprised me in a major way how they picked up on the harmony blocks. Instead of learning two songs, we ended up learning five songs. The unity across the denominational lines was incredible. To hear the songs of Zion being sung across denominational lines where you’ve got Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists and Lutherans all at the same place — the Spirit of God definitely took over the rehearsal.”
Raymond Hodge, director of Business and Records at the Church of God International Offices in Cleveland, Tenn., will bring the message and then officiate over the serving of Communion.
“This is going to be a historical event because we’re going to serve Communion across denominational lines,” Arnett said. “If there’s 5,000 people there or 10,000, we’re going to serve Communion. Won’t that be something?”
Tony Collins, pastor at Broadway Baptist Church in Maryville, suggested serving Communion during the Good Good Friday celebration. “Broadway Baptist is actually paying for all the Communion cups,” Arnett said.
Good Good Friday, as well as Race to Jesus, a crusade taking place today, April 3, through Wednesday, April 6, at Smoky Mountain Speedway, Brick Mill Road, Maryville, are both outgrowths of the Awake21 revival held for 21 days in January. The response to the three-week revival which united the community across denominational lines was overwhelming. Arnett said, “In the first 21 days of this year, we reached over 102,000 people. We had public attendance of over 8,500 people, and we had over 56,000 that viewed it on Facebook over livestream. We had another 22,000 that viewed it on our website. In the 21 days, we reached 21 countries around the world. It’s just unbelievable, and I’ve got the documents to prove it. And how it all came about was from a prayer group that started at Smith Mortuary!”
Arnett said he thinks Blount County is experiencing such a spiritual awakening that it will never be the same.
“When we come across denominational lines in unity, the Bible says that there’s a commanded blessing, and we’re believing for that. We’d like to see the heart of the people change. It can, and we believe it will.”
Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.
What: Good Good Friday, a Blount County celebration sponsored by Faith and Family Coalition and Awake21
When: 4-7 p.m. Friday, April 15
Where: Greenbelt Amphitheater, Maryville
Details: Awake21 Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 2-8, 4-5 p.m.; 15-mile Teen CrossWalk, arriving at amphitheater between 5 and 5:30 p.m.; music by RIO Fire beginning at 5 p.m.; Awake21 Mass Choir produced and directed by Billy Arnett beginning about 5:30 p.m. followed by message by special guest Raymond Hodge and serving of Communion
Admission: Free; bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating
To participate in the Awake21 Mass Choir: Fill out the registration form at Awake21.com or contact Arnett at awake21mc@yahoo.com
Information: Visit the website at https://awake21.com or the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/awake21blountcountytn
Life columnist
Linda Braden Albert worked as a feature writer and editor at The Daily Times. She is now the editor of Horizon Magazine and a columnist.
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