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Gainesville Christians come together to experience Stations of the Cross on Good Friday
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Members of St. Michael Catholic Church perform the Stations of the Cross Friday morning in front of hundreds visiting at Laurel Park. The church has used Laurel Park as the site for the performance since 2004, with rehearsals every Saturday and Sunday for three months.

Christians across Gainesville got on their feet Friday, walking in remembrance of the death of their savior.

Two Stations of the Cross services were offered by churches in Gainesville on Good Friday, the religious holiday commemorating the death of Jesus Christ. SEE SLIDESHOW BELOW

St. Michael Catholic Church in Gainesville held its annual Stations of the Cross at Laurel Park, which included a Spanish-language production, including sets, costumes and a crew of actors.

The practice marks 14 “stations” or moments of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion.

In the stations, four guards clad in Roman sandals, gold helmets and breastplates dragged Jesus through the stations, while crowds taunted and jeered. He walked through Laurel Park, falling three times, hanging on a cross and finally being laid to rest. 

Meanwhile, five other churches in Gainesville — First Baptist, Grace Episcopal, Gainesville First United Methodist, St. Paul United Methodist and First Presbyterian churches — teamed up to offer Stations of the Cross that began at Grace Episcopal Church, processed down Green Street and ended at First Baptist Church.

The Rev. Stuart Higginbotham from Grace Episcopal began the event with a Good Friday liturgical reading at noon, and the Rev. Bill Coates from First Baptist concluded in the sanctuary at his church.

“This is a day of many firsts, including incense in the Baptist church,” Coates joked. “And we really like it. Somebody the other day referred to this as ‘First Episcopal Church,’ and I thought it was a great compliment.”

The Green Street stations are a culmination of a Lenten series in which all six churches offered community Lenten worship services or luncheons. Pastors from one church spoke during services at another local church each Wednesday leading up to Holy Week.

Coates said the purpose of stations is to reflect on the sacrifice of the crucifixion and prepare for Easter. 

Hundreds gathered at Laurel Park for the Spanish-language stations, and an unexpectedly large group of more than 100 people joined the Green Street stations as well.

Coates said he was grateful for the ecumenical gathering of Christians of different denominations at the end of Lent.

“There has never been a day like Good Friday. And there has never been a Good Friday like this Good Friday. It’s wonderful to have all of us together in this way.”

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