Braving chilling winds, a band of intrepid Christians re-created the Stations of the Cross, or Christ’s final hours, on Good Friday through the Vale and Hamilton Hill neighborhoods.
The tradition dates to the mid-1990s locally, and for hundreds of years before that in the Christian church, said the Rev. Brad Jones, rector of Christ Church Episcopal on State Street.
“We do it as a joint observance of Good Friday and as a sign of unity. We believe that what happened to Christ on the cross is the greatest sign of hope for this community,” Jones said.
About 50 lay people and clergy of various denominations and agencies in Schenectady participated in the two-hour circuit through the inner city neighborhoods. Stops were made at various ministries and churches, at the Schenectady County Jail and at the Schenectady Inner City Ministry food pantry.
“Each year, we change the route to recognize any new ministries or churches,” Jones said. This year, the procession recognized the new pastor of Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ on Georgetta Dix. “The church has been going through some difficult times and has a new pastor and a new start,” Jones said.
Six years ago, the procession visited locations where people had been murdered, saying a prayer of peace at each site, Jones said.
At each of the 15 stations, a member of the procession related what happened to Christ on his final journey and the crowd responded with a verse of Scripture and sang a hymn.
Jones said most Christian faiths recognize 14 stations. “We added one extra station of looking at the cross after Christ’s crucifixion,” he said.
Volunteers took turns carrying the small wooden cross, stained brown and weighing less than 10 pounds. “We want children to carry it,” Jones said.
“We do this rain or shine,” Jones said. Friday’s weather featured strong winds that dropped the wind chill to single digits.
Stephen Hasslacher has participated in just about every procession since its founding, he said. He and his wife came for the event from Greenwich, Conn., where they moved last year. “It is important to remember the sacrifice Christ made for us all,” he said. “There are a lot of things Christianity offers, and we have to be more visible.”
Hasslacher said he finds satisfaction in participating in the event. “I’ve seen people exposed to something they haven’t been exposed to before. They see us, they ask questions, they get involved. They are moving forward,” he said.
Kyle Coomes, 16, of Scotia’s Trinity Presbyterian Church, was there with five friends. “We are doing this as part of a confirmation class,” he said.
It was the first time he had participated, Coomes said. But he was glad to be there. “It will be a good experience. I hope to get a sense of community from it,” he said.
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Categories: Schenectady County