Sharing the Easter Message With Our Communities

Sharing the Easter Message With Our Communities

Churches across the diocese have been celebrating Easter in the heart of our communities. Here is a round-up of some of the events across the diocese.

Around 200 people gathered for an open-air service in Southampton Guildhall Square on Good Friday.  It was the first public collective church event in the city since the Covid pandemic. Find out more about the service on the Love Southampton website.

Waterside Churches Together also led walks of witness with crosses on Good Friday, congregating in the centre of Hythe for a special service all together. Then on Saturday the churches again hosted an event in the centre of Hythe with worship, activities for children and people sharing testimonies.  The village Easter Egg hunt also took place with St John’s Church open for refreshments and gifts of goody bags for all the children.

It is a joy to witness the community spirit that exists in Hythe. At Easter time this is particularly apparent, and is made distinctive by the local churches coming together to serve and witness. As we go through the emotions of Holy week, it is important that we give people in our community a chance to join in with the journey; and to give their journeys a space for expression. This is particularly true of our outdoor services. We pray that those who identify with Jesus’ suffering may find hope in the story of Jesus, and all he did for them on that first Easter.

Serena Merritt, Ordinand in Hythe

It was also a time of great creativity in the Andover Parishes.  More than 100 people joined an Easter garden workshop at St Paul’s church, creating wonderful scenes, and there was also dancing, games and an Easter egg hunt and the sharing of the Easter story.

We enjoyed worshiping together, listening to the retelling of Jesus’ death and resurrection and built our very own Easter garden using a variety of objects representing the significant events that
happened in the story. It was wonderful to see how God was moving in this place, we engaged in some amazing conversations and were able to share this experience with so many families.

Antonette Weir, Children’s and Schools Pastor

Itchen Valley churches invited people to follow in the footsteps of Jesus on his way to the cross with a procession through the village of Martyr Worthy. The spectators followed the actors, singing hymns and taking part as members of the crowd, with lots of different gardens being used for specific scenes.  26 adults and 8 children took part, with the oldest in their 80s and the youngest just 3 years old, and around 150 spectators.  It ended at St Swithun’s Church with an enactment of the crucifixion.  The congregation then left in silence and headed to the Village Hall for warming cups of coffee, hot cross buns and a chance to catch up with neighbours and friends.  The local churches have staged this event, come rain or shine, for more than 40 years!

The Way of the Cross is an amazing event for everyone.  The people taking part have enormous fun and it is so wonderful to have all of the different generations throwing themselves into it.  Some people have played the same role for over 15 years, whilst some have risen up through the ranks to play different roles but new people are always invited and encouraged to take part each year – it is a wonderful experience to be part of and to witness.  It is a great outreach event and so much part of the tradition of the Itchen Valley.

Beccy Clark

St James Church in Pokesdown welcomed children from St James’ Primary Academy and East Cliff Pre-Schools into the church.  Inspired by peace doves installed around various Cathedrals, they made butterflies to symbol new life and wrote prayers on the back.  They also tied ribbons on to an Easter cross to reflect the school’s values of love, hope and forgiveness.  The butterflies and cross remained in church throughout the Easter season.

Pupils from St Mark’s School, Shirley Junior School, Wordsworth Primary School and Tanner’s Brook Primary also visited St James’ Church by the Park in Shirley to take part in Easter Story Live! As well as listening to the Easter story and seeing parts of it acted out, they made a clay cup and plate to remind them of Jesus’ body broken and blood poured out and a picture of the empty tomb, to remind them of Jesus’ victory over death.

It is such a privilege to share Easter Story, Live! with local schools in Shirley. This is the third year that the children have come to visit us at the church for this interactive storytelling event. It allows them to have a fun and engaging experience of the Christian story of Easter unfolding around them. Students get to be a part of the story by singing, making small crafts at various points in the story, joining the angry mob and sharing wonderful and heartfelt comments as they think about what happened to Jesus. They also get hot cross buns to take home with them at the end. The children enjoyed it and so did the adults! It’s such a blessing to be able to put it on and be a part of it.

Angel, Children and Families Team Leader

As the sun rose on Easter day, people gathered across the diocese to remember the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.  They met in churchyards and parks, on Boscombe beach, alongside the River Hamble and on the top of St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester.

This service is a joint celebration Holy Communion Service with local churches at the River Hamble Country Park to celebrate what Jesus has done for us. He is Risen! Alleluia!

Linda & Bernadette, Churchwardens

Many churches have their own local traditions.  It’s believed egg rolling was first introduced in the US on Capitol Hill in Washington in the 19th century.  At St Mary’s Church in Kings Worthy, they’ve been holding an egg rolling competition for 30 years.  Hand decorated hard boiled eggs are rolled down a slope outside the church in a fierce competition to see whose egg lands closest to the end rope, with prizes for the winners in the children’s, men’s and women’s races.