GREENFIELD — Twelve parishioners from The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew gathered to pray in front of the Family Inn on Federal Street Friday afternoon as part of a contemporary “Stations in the Streets” Good Friday remembrance walk.
“Homelessness can strip a family of their dignity and sense of belonging. Folks who work in this place do their best to see that does not happen to families who come here,” said Parishioner Steven Houghton, who led the walk in Greenfield after attending a similar walk in Worcester a few years ago.
The procession stepped off from the church at the corner of Federal and Church streets at 11 a.m. and traversed three miles, ending just after 1 p.m. in front of the public library. Along the way, parishioners stopped at 14 social service buildings — including the fire station, hospital, and courthouse — representing the 14 traditional “Stations of the Cross,” commemorating important moments in the conviction and death of Jesus Christ.
Each stop was selected to bring attention to important social service organizations “doing God’s work. It’s through God’s grace that we’re here, and continue to be here, and any work we do is God’s work,” said Parishioner Jason Burns, a teacher at Hopkins Academy who took a personal day to attend the walk.
While walking, the group cheerfully greeted passersby, and stopped to talk with a few people begging for money.
“It is a step we are taking to take our Christianity out of the church and into the streets,” Houghton said. “Without Good Friday, we don’t have the resurrection. And the resurrection is the greatest sign of hope that Christianity has.”
Traditionally, Good Friday is celebrated by those who follow Christian faith — a day “for reflection about our mortality, and to remind us we’re not in this world alone,” Burns said. Each year, it falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday marking the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, which is paramount to Christian faith.
“It’s a wonderful to participate, a way to relate the suffering of Jesus on the cross to the suffering of people today,” said Mary Ellen McCarthy, who lives in Virginia and was here visiting a friend. Another visitor, Australian Priest Prue O’Donovan said Good Friday is “about love. Love is very transformational, particularly in a world that doesn’t have a lot of it.”
Friday’s event stemmed from Emmaus Companions, a volunteer community service outreach program for those “on the margins in Franklin County,” a statement on the church’s website explains.
“We share meals with our community at Second Helpings and engage in their struggles, hopes, sadness, and joys. We go out into the streets and gathering places of Greenfield to bring a ministry of spiritual care and hope,” the statement says.
Noting other outreach programs, including the outdoor Christian community “Cathedral in the Light,” Houghton said Jesus “broke down the temple and brought it to the people. He didn’t ask for a church, he asked for a movement.”
A day earlier, the church held a service remembering “The Last Supper,” a time related in the Bible when Jesus ate dinner for the last time. Looking ahead, following Easter services Sunday, the church will hold Easter themed Bible studies every Monday through May 22.