(Photo: Vintage Faith Church)
This Easter, churches are getting creative and extending their reach beyond invitations to a Good Friday service. They're bringing Good Friday to the people.
Vintage Faith Church is setting up "Stations of the Cross" in downtown, Santa Cruz, Calif., where thousands of passers-by will have the opportunity to walk through an interactive outdoor public art exhibit that tells the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
In its fifth year, the exhibit brings the historical events of Easter into a present day public discourse, as the church explained.
Twelve stations are set up along the sidewalk on Pacific Ave, each featuring unique art displays - some of which are interactive - created by local Bay Area artists, a Scripture reference, and the artists' brief explanation about how their art represents the biblical passage. Onlookers are given a guide to take them through the stations.
"It is always an incredible experience watching people who normally would never even go to a Good Friday gathering and happen to be downtown stop and end up going through the whole display," said Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith, in his blog. "We allow the Scriptures they are reading and the art pieces to be doing the talking - although people do ask questions from people who are there from our church."
Vintage Faith, a church of mainly twentysomethings, will hold an Easter Sunday gathering at the church, but for Good Friday, Kimball said they want to tell the story in a public place just as the crucifixion was in a very public place 2,000 years ago.
Trina Merry, an artist and one of the lead organizers for the Stations of the Cross, said the event is aimed at telling the story of Easter in a fresh and engaging way that speaks to the public through a "distinct post-modern dialogue."
Organizers are also seeking to reveal the "darker side" of the Easter story and convey the "harder realities" surrounding the crucifixion.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Wall Street's Trinity Church is also taking a unique approach to Good Friday.
Adapting to a more socially-networked culture, the historic church is putting on what is believed to be the world's first Passion play performed through Twitter.
Twitter users can follow the Passion play beginning at noon on Friday. For three hours they will receive Tweets from the main characters of the play about the final hours of Christ.
Additionally, the church is offering the Stations of the Cross on the Web. The online stations provide a contemporary recreation of Christ's passion and allow users to experience each station at their own pace.
Traditionally, walking - or now, clicking - through the Stations of the Cross is designed for devoted followers of Jesus. But Vintage Faith Church says their approach is to establish an exhibit with a much broader purpose.
"What if the people of Santa Cruz could walk through Jesus' experience, relating to the feelings of a 'forsaken' Christ who is abused, rejected and lonely? Betrayed by his closest friends and punished for a crime he didn't commit," the church says on its website. "What if the resurrection became a symbol of hope for people who would never usually step foot in a church?
"This is Stations of the Cross."
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