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Ecumenical group takes Good Friday story to the streets

A local member of the Port Orchard Community takes a turn carrying a cross during an ecumenical walk sponsored by the Spirit of Life Lutheran Church. - Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Photo
A local member of the Port Orchard Community takes a turn carrying a cross during an ecumenical walk sponsored by the Spirit of Life Lutheran Church.
— image credit: Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Photo

Standing outside of the Christian Life Center at 1780 SE Lincoln Ave., Pastor George Larson welcomed a group of parishioners come from various area churches, all bundled in hats, winter jackets and gloves on a cold Friday morning.

“I have good news and I have great news,” Larson said.

The group was there to carry a large, varnished-wood cross through the streets of Port Orchard, commemorating the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in observation of Good Friday.

Larson’s good news — because of the Christian season relying on a lunar calendar, Easter and Good Friday will occur later in spring for the next 100 years, hopefully in warmer weather. The great news — Larson said, was that “God is love.”

Despite the great news, this is an atypical ceremony on an unusual holiday. Unlike other commemorative days, celebrating a joyful event or great accomplishment, such as Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus or Purim celebrating Jewish freedom from the ancient Persian Empire, Good Friday tells the story of an execution. And unlike other ceremonies, which often happen within the walls of a church, temple or mosque, this one takes place out on the streets of Port Orchard.

Sponsored by the Spirit of Life Lutheran Church, a small procession carries a large, wooden cross down the streets from the The Christian Life Center at 1780 SE Lincoln Ave. to the Gazebo Park on the water front. They stop periodically to read Bible verses and hold prayer. As they walk, they remain mostly silent to think about the story and its meaning.

Pastor Eric Allert said those going about their daily lives treat the procession well.

“For the most part, it’s respectful,” he said. “They’ll give you plenty of room so that you can have your moment.”

This year, the group was trailed by a mail delivery truck. Allert said the truck stayed at a safe distance to keep the motor noise down.

Others passing will honk or wave, which Allert said does not necessarily match the somber atmosphere of the procession, but said he feels the support of those passing by.

A few, he admits, react negatively to the public procession.

“There have been others in the past that are not respective, and have a various gesture that is not appropriate for worship,” he said, noting that past experiences may have marred the image of Christian churches. “Unfortunately churches of all Christian denominations at one time or another have done harm.”

But he hopes most see the ceremony as commemorating how tragedies can lead to reasons for celebration.

“It is called Good Friday,” Allert said. “And though the heavy heart would not be so easy to rejoice and declare the day is good, ultimately it is a good day.”

On Sunday, the Christian church commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

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