On Monday, March 25 at 10:30 am Eastern, more than 20 Episcopal bishops from throughout the church will lead hundreds of clergy and lay people in praying the Stations of the Cross in Washington, DC, as they process along Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the U. S. Capitol to challenge violence, especially the epidemic of gun violence that claims so many thousands of American lives each year.
The service will begin outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, http://www.stjohns-dc.org/ at the corner of 16th and H Streets, Northwest, across from the White House, and conclude on the west lawn of the U. S. Capitol some two and a half hours later.
The specially written Stations of the Cross, focusing on the tragedy of gun violence, are available here https://www.ctepiscopal.org/Content/Holy_Week_Witness_Liturgy.asp for personal use, and can be adapted for use in local contexts.
Bishops, priests and deacons in the procession will wear cassocks or other clerical attire, and worshippers will carry a wooden cross, as they make their way along Pennsylvania Avenue, stopping in front of memorials, government buildings and works of art to offer prayers for an end to violence, the culture of violence, and the social and economic conditions that spawn violence.
Bishop Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut, along with Suffragan Bishops Laura J. Ahrens and James E. Curry, organized the service immediately after the killing of 28 students, teachers and individuals at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. They worked in cooperation with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of Washington, and a team from her diocese. Clergy and lay involved in the Diocese of Connecticut’s response to the killings in Newtown will participate in the service.
“The death dealing realities of violence are brought home to us as Christians when we recall the crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross this Holy Week,” said Bishop Douglas. “Walking the Way of the Cross invites us, compels us, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.”
Episcopal bishops Nedi Rivera of Eastern Oregon, Bud Shand of Easton, Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles, Larry Provenzano of Long Island, Eugene Sutton, Bob Ihloff and Joe Burnett of Maryland, Gayle Harris of Massachusetts, Steven Miller of Milwaukee, Mark Beckwith of Newark, Dave Bailey of Navajoland, Rob Hirschfeld of New Hampshire, W. Nicholas Knisely of Rhode Island, Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, Shannon Johnson of Virginia, Douglas Fisher of Western Massachusetts and Porter Taylor of Western North Carolina will participate. The Rt. Rev. Dinis S. Sengulane, bishop of Lebombo, Mozambique in The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, who helped to end the civil war in his country and inspired the collection and conversion of weapons from that war for peaceful purposes, will be a participant.
“The church is called to comfort those who mourn, but if we do not also urge our lawmakers to take steps to reduce the number of people who are shot to death each year, our words of comfort ring hollow,” Budde said.
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross commemorates the ordeal of Jesus from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate through his crucifixion and burial. Worshippers metaphorically walk with Jesus, stopping to offer prayers inspired by events, some legendary, that occurred as Jesus carried his cross. The liturgy being used in Washington DC is available on the Diocese of Connecticut’s website.
Episcopalians in other communities are also holding events on March 25 to challenge gun violence. The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa will hold a march and interfaith prayer service on Monday from 2-3 pm Central at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Des Moines (Diocese of Iowa). St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in McMinnville, Oregon (Diocese of Oregon) will use the Stations of the Cross liturgy developed for the event in Washington DC for its own outdoor service from 3:30 to 6:30 pm Pacific, as will Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green in New Haven, Connecticut, where the Stations will begin at noon, Eastern. Other communities holding Holy Week services to stand against gun violence are invited to post their event information on the Episcopalians Against Gun Violence Facebook page.
Many of the bishops who will participate in the event are part of Episcopalians Against Gun Violence, an ad hoc group of bishops, clergy and lay people of Episcopalians who are working, collectively and individually, to curb gun violence. Learn more on Facebook at facebook.com/EpiscopaliansAgainstGunViolence and on Twitter at @TheCrossLobby.
For more information contact Jim Naughton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org