DOVER — Jesse Williamson had a challenging role at the start of the Way of the Cross Interfaith Procession on Friday.
As a group of Dover’s faith leaders set out from the parking lot of Church of the Holy Cross and headed north on the sidewalk, 10-year-old Jesse portrayed Jesus, wearing a white robe and carrying a cross to commemorate Good Friday and to mark the beginning of Easter weekend.
Jesse joined his brothers, Zach and Xander Williamson, in carrying the cross, which they have done for several years.
“It means that I’m representing Jesus and what that means to me,” Jesse said. “I’m pretty honored to be able to do this.”
The event was extended this year because it had previously always been an indoor and outdoor program.
Taking COVID-19 precautions, organizers decided on an all-outdoor procession this year, complete with face masks and social distancing. The march was extended to wind through Dover before the group finished its journey at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church on North Queen Street.
The crowd was diverse — with male preachers, reverends of color, female pastors — all coming together to remind the community of the sacredness of Good Friday, the day many believe Jesus died on the cross.
The group of around 30 or so who braved the cold, blustery weather stopped for prayer at various locations along their route.
“It’s awesome,” said the Rev. Dr. Turhan Potter, pastor of Whatcoat United Methodist Church. “It shows community and solidarity that we can all come together as one, not just as human beings together but (to) celebrate our faith.
“Good Friday is one of the highest points of the church to sit here and think about the death of Jesus Christ and what he did for us on Calvary. It’s the high point of our faith, and looking forward to resurrection on Sunday morning,” the Rev. Potter added.
Prayers were led by representatives of Christ Episcopal Church, Wesley and Whatcoat United Methodist churches, Presbyterian Church of Dover, People’s Church of Dover, Bayhealth Chaplaincy, Wesley College Chaplaincy, Church of the Holy Cross, Dover Air Force Base Chaplaincy, John Wesley AME Church, the Baha’i community of central Delaware and others.
“Today’s event is the resumption of an annual event that we do every Good Friday,” said Jon Rania, lay ministry associate and director of music at Christ Episcopal. “We had not done it last year because of COVID. It’s ecumenical in its roots and nature because we gather all the churches of greater Dover, and one of our common factors is celebrating the passion of our Lord.
“It’s an opportunity to give witness through our city of the unity of our churches and to be a source of strength and resources. We will offer prayers for our government on The Green, and new this year will be prayers for the homeless community by a member of the high faith,” he said.
The Rev. Amy Yarnall, pastor of Wesley United Methodist, summed the day up succinctly.
“Good Friday is the day that we remember that Jesus died for us,” she said. “It is the day that Jesus showed us what love looks like.”
The Rev. Ericka Crawford, pastor of Mount Zion, said she was happy the community faith leaders got the chance to get together after being shuttered away during the pandemic for so long.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for us to share as people of faith,” the Rev. Crawford said. “We don’t get to do a lot together, particularly during COVID, so I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to create community.
“It’s a cold day, but there’s warmth in our hearts.”