The leaders of the four main Christian denominations in Derry have conducted a joint Walk of Witness through the city centre to mark Good Friday.
The church leaders gathered with other clergy and members of their congregations to carry a large wooden cross from St Columb’s Hall to the Guildhall via the Richmond Centre and Shipquay Street.
The group, which gathered local people, tourists and curious onlookers along the route, stopped periodically so that passages from the gospels relating to the Easter story of Christ’s Crucifixion and the Resurrection could be orated.
Hymns were also sung at various spots, including among the bustling crowds of shoppers on the ground floor of the Richmond Centre.
Speaking to the Journal during the event, Church Of Ireland Rev Ken Good said: “On the First Good Friday Jesus himself carried his cross through the market square, through the city centre.
“It was in a way a walk of shame, but we want now this to be a walk of witness whereby we are identifying what he did for us, and all of us from across the city and community as Christian people say: we acknowledge the Cross, we are part of what he did for us and we want to witness to that for the city.”
We are obviously here in the middle of the city centre walking through it united and i think it sends out an excellent signal to the rest of the world that here in Derry we can do these kind of special intiatives together at such a special time of year.Mayor Elisha McCallion
Catholic Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown added: “I think Churches will have all sorts of ceremonies inside Churches for those who come there, but if you look at the news this morning or any morning you will find enormous amounts of bad news from Kenya or wherever else and I think we’re trying to say the Cross is not about the suffering of Jesus and to make us feel bad, it is there to say there is hope: working together as Churches and civic society we can actually confront all the crosses people have to bear, and look forward to some sort of resurrection in God’s own good time.
“It is about giving confidence and hope about facing the future and we want to do that in the public square to say we have something that I hope will help us process all that pain that weighs so heavily on many people’s shoulders.”
Presbyterian Rev John Hanna from Glendermott Parish Church said: “All that happened to the Saviour in a city all those years ago when they took him to the outside, what was done there would transform the heart of their community and the heart and the life of every city and every community across the world and it is just as true for us here in Derry today- the message of the cross and the message of the gospel brings hope and we are here to represent that and to present it in a new way again to our people and to call them to that, that faith renewed in Christ Jesus.”
Methodist Minister Rev Peter Murray meanwhile added: “What Jesus came to do was to give people the right kind of pointers for life, to give people the right kind of perspective on living, to say that money is not everything, and we know that and that is what we are doing here together in the city.
“We are saying relationships is the most important thing in people’s lives and the most important of all those relationships is our relationship with God.”
Speaking at the event on Friday afternoon, Mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion said: “This is a very religious day for all denominations and I think it is an excellent initiative that has been taken by the four Churches here in the city centre.
“We are obviously here in the middle of the city centre walking through it united and I think it sends out an excellent signal to the rest of the world that here in Derry we can do these kind of special initiatives together at such a special time of year.”