Acts of Witness mark Good Friday before Easter celebrations in North Herts and Stevenage

One of the crosses is raised in Hitchin's Market Place after the Walk of Witness on Good Friday. Pic

One of the crosses is raised in Hitchin's Market Place after the Walk of Witness on Good Friday. Picture: Sam Hallas - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of people across North Herts marked Good Friday with acts of public witness in their respective towns in the run-up to Easter.

Hitchin's united service in Market Place on Good Friday. Picture: Sam Hallas

Hitchin's united service in Market Place on Good Friday. Picture: Sam Hallas - Credit: Archant

Good Friday marks the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem two millenia ago, with Easter Sunday celebrating his resurrection as described in the New Testament.

Hitchin’s Walk of Witness was attended by 500 people from 17 churches, who made their way from Bancroft Gardens to Market Place for a united service led by Rev Jane Mainwaring, of St Mark’s Church off Lancaster Avenue.

Music was led by singers and musicians from Walsworth Road Baptist Church, directed by Harold Liberty.

Rev Jane Mainwaring of St Mark's Church leads Hitchin's united Good Friday service in Market Place.

Rev Jane Mainwaring of St Mark's Church leads Hitchin's united Good Friday service in Market Place. Picture: Sam Hallas - Credit: Archant

Father Tom O’Brien of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate & St Andrew led prayers, and the address was given by Rev Dan Drew, who is curate at St Mary’s Church and also leads The Hub Church along with his wife Alex.


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Dan said: “Today is the day that with arms wide open Jesus embraces a broken world. Today God understands – at the cross he embraces us.

“I wonder if you’ve ever felt guilty. Some of my friends that don’t go to church haven’t got their heads around me becoming a vicar and wearing a collar – I haven’t got my head round it yet to be fair.”

Rev Dan Drew of St Mary's Church and The Hub Church gives the address during Hitchin's united servic

Rev Dan Drew of St Mary's Church and The Hub Church gives the address during Hitchin's united service on Good Friday. Picture: Sam Hallas - Credit: Archant

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He proceeded to tell a story about a one such friend called ‘Chopper’, who Dan said had stolen a bike but then reconsidered and phoned him for advice.

Dan said: “I don’t know if this is official C of E vicar advice, but I asked him if he could take it back without getting caught. All was fine.

“At the cross violence, pain, hurt and deceit go in and nothing but love comes out. At the cross he gives us everything, in his death he gives us life. Unlimited, infinite forgiveness and freedom from brokenness.”

The Praise Be Band play outside Baldock's Tesco store with Councillor Jim McNally on vocals, as Rev

The Praise Be Band play outside Baldock's Tesco store with Councillor Jim McNally on vocals, as Rev Andrew Holford looks on. Picture: Alex Milne - Credit: Archant

He then described his visit a year ago to Rwanda, where he met a survivor of the 1994 Tutsi genocide who had reconciled with the man who killed her family.

“Her story brought us all to tears,” he said. “Then a man stood next to her and began to tell his story – and I slowly realised he was the killer and they were standing together side by side.”

He concluded: “Today let us live in the discomfort of Good Friday, but look for hope in the one who has overcome death.”

Baldock marked Good Friday with an act of witness outside the town’s Tesco superstore, with free Easter eggs and hot cross buns courtesy of Tesco and music from the Praise Be Band.

Also on hand was a portable garden representing Jesus’ tomb in the garden of Gethsemane, which was transported afterwards to St Mary’s Church – with the stone rolled away on Easter Sunday.

In Stevenage, about 300 people from the town’s churches marked Good Friday with a Walk of Witness from the Bowling Green at the end of the High Street to the town centre.

Letchworth’s Walk of Witness, meanwhile, was attended by about 200 people from all the garden city’s churches, with a united service in Leys Square.

There was music from the Salvation Army band, and the cross was put across two ladders to create a visual representation of its bridging the gap between humanity and God – with people invited to walk across.

Claire Harald from St Paul’s Church said: “This basically explains the point of Good Friday – Jesus died so he could become closer to God, and Jesus’ death, depicted by the cross, became the bridge between God and us. Walking across the cross was a visual demonstration of how the cross allows us to become closer to God.”

Yesterday, on Easter Monday, some North Herts groups took part in the pilgrimage to St Albans Cathedral.

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