DARIEN, Conn. -- The parishioners of several Darien churches gathered to take part in the annual Good Friday tradition of carrying a large wooden cross across town.
The tradition is meant to evoke Jesus's carrying of the cross before his crucifixion on Good Friday. The group of about 15 people brought the cross from the First Congregational Church to St. Luke's Parish, where they then took part in a multi-faith afternoon prayer service. Along the way they took turns carrying the cross, and stopped at various points along their route to say prayers for members of the community.
"Good Friday pulls us together," said the Rev. Dale Rosenberger of the First Congregational Church. He said that the day can sometimes be overshadowed by Easter, but that Good Friday is important to the Christian faith. He said the carrying of the cross is a unique way of illustrating the story of Jesus and his suffering.
"It brings home the message, it reminds people that this happened," Rosenberger said. "When you're walking and carrying the cross, there's no mistaking that we are witnesses to his story."
The Rev. Christopher Leighton of St. Paul's Church has been participating in the event for the last 15 years.
"It's a way for us to remind people of what this day means," Leighton said. He said that it celebrates Jesus' sacrifice and the love that God feels for mankind. He said that carrying the cross through the town demonstrates the story of Jesus as much as any sermon could. "I think it's a visual that people can relate to. It's taking the message out to the streets."
Along the journey, the flock stopped at locations such as Darien Fire Station, the railroad station, the Darien Playhouse, the Darien Library, the Gardeners Center, Spring Grove Cemetery and Town Hall. They said prayers for seniors, firefighters, travelers, cities, artists, animals, libraries, those who have died and those who perform government and community service.
Taki Nara is a member of the Noroton Presbyterian Church who has participated in the event for more than 10 years. He said that carrying the cross reminds him of the story from the Bible and refreshes the message in his mind.
"It's to remember what Christ did," Nara said. "Physically you feel the burden, and you remember it vividly."
Carol Ann Miller, a member of the United Methodist Church of Darien, participated in the event for the first time this year. She said the walk reminded her of the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage traditionally taken in Spain to the shrine of St. James the Great.
"It was very meaningful," she said.