Stations of the Cross
St. Michael Catholic Church
When: 11 a.m. Friday, March 25
Where: Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville
More info: 770-534-3338 or www.saintmichael.cc
Green Street stations
When: Good Friday liturgy beginning at noon, Stations of the Cross beginning at 1 p.m.
Where: Beginning at Grace Episcopal, 422 Brenau Ave. NE, Gainesville; ending at First Baptist Church Gainesville, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville; transportation will be provided from First Baptist back to Grace Episcopal.
More info: 770-536-0126 or www.gracechurchgainesville.org
It’s a historic Christian tradition of commemorating the passion of Jesus Christ.
One Gainesville church has offered Stations of the Cross for more than 25 years. Five others are organizing stations together for the first time, giving area Christians two opportunities to take part in a remembrance of Jesus’ suffering and death.
St. Michael Catholic Church will hold Stations of the Cross at 11 a.m. on Good Friday, March 25, at Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway in Gainesville.
The church has held this massively attended Lenten observance for decades.
“It’s become an institution, really, and a great tradition,” the Rev. Monsignor Jaime Barona said. “We depict Jesus from his arrest to his death and burial in the holy sepulchre. Sometimes it’s very poignant, the description of him being crucified, of falling three times. When you actually meditate on Jesus lying out, can you imagine yourself lying on the floor and having these big nails driven into your wrists?”
For those unfamiliar with Stations of the Cross, the practice marks 14 moments of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. Good Friday marks the Christian holiday commemorating the day Jesus was crucified.
Barona said nearly 100 people from St. Michael dress in costume for a full Stations of the Cross production at Laurel Park. The church also has a Holy Friday service at 3 p.m., which includes Stations of the Cross, at its location at 1440 Pearce Circle.
Meanwhile, five other churches in Gainesville are teaming up to offer Stations of the Cross, which will begin at Grace Episcopal Church, 422 Brenau Ave. NE, and end at First Baptist Church on Green Street.
“Anybody who wants to will walk down Green Street all the way to First Baptist, and we’ll end there at about 2 p.m.,” said the Rev. Bill Coates from First Baptist. “There are traditionally stations along the way that the church has always had on Good Friday, marking various things on the Via Dolorosa, or the way of the cross.”
The Rev. Stuart Higginbotham from Grace Episcopal will begin the event with a Good Friday liturgical reading at noon, followed by the stations at 1 p.m. Participants make their way, station by station, to First Baptist.
Transportation will be provided back to Grace Episcopal afterward. Coates said anyone who can’t make the whole trip should feel free to join for some of the stations. In the event of rain, the stations will be inside at Grace Episcopal.
The purpose of the stations is not to seek attention, Coates said, but to worship and reflect.
“It’ll just be a group of people walking along, stopping to read a passage of Scripture at each station,” he said. “We’ll have the final station at First Baptist, and then we’ll be all prepared for Easter.”
Barona said the purpose of Stations of the Cross is to meditate on the passion of Jesus in the Gospel and prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.
“There is no Easter without the crucifixion,” Barona said.
The Green Street stations are a culmination of a Lenten series in which all six churches took part.
First Baptist, Grace Episcopal and St. Michael worked with Gainesville First United Methodist, St. Paul United Methodist and First Presbyterian Church to offer community Lenten worship services or luncheons. Pastors from one church spoke during services at another local church each Wednesday leading up to Holy Week.
Barona and Coates said the ecumenical environment in Gainesville is remarkable.
“The really important thing about all this is what a unique opportunity we have with these churches working together,” Coates said. “We do a lot of things together. It’s the most ecumenical community I’ve ever been part of, and far more than most, I would think.
“To be able to cross over different traditions in the Christian faith, do things together, learn from one another and celebrate together, to me is an incredibly good thing and says a lot about this community, these pastors and these churches.”