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Crucifixion on the streets

PUBLISHED: 15:48 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:37 23 August 2010

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ABOUT 1,000 onlookers watched a powerful re-enactment of the crucifixion on Good Friday. The annual Easter Pageant commemorates the death of Jesus Christ in a poignant procession through the town centre. It ended outside the empty Woolworths store where

ABOUT 1,000 onlookers watched a powerful re-enactment of the crucifixion on Good Friday.

The annual Easter Pageant commemorates the death of Jesus Christ in a poignant procession through the town centre.

It ended outside the empty Woolworths store where Jesus is placed on a cross, the story of his death retold and his resurrection takes place.

The dramatic procession, which started outside St George's Church at 10.40am before passing the taxi rank and through the town centre, featured brutal scenes of beatings and shackled prisoners. Jesus is repeatedly whipped and abused by his captors as he drags a cross to his place of death in a powerful performance.

Shopper Kirsty Brent, 32, said: "I did not realise how real to life the procession actually is. The Roman guards were performing the brutality of the event very well.

"Everyone stopped to watch and hundreds seemed to follow the procession through town.

"I've seen it before, but it looked much busier this year. It is a great way of getting the story across to those who don't necessarily go to church and for youngsters. It was quite moving."

The procession incorporated all of the principal characters involved in the crucifixion - the thieves, Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilate. It featured the two thieves, crucified alongside Jesus, and Barrabas, a murderer who was speared death by the mob so Jesus could be killed.

Artistic director Martin Harris, who used to appear in the annual event as Jesus Christ, did the dramatic voice-overs for the church members and volunteers who performed in the re-enactment as he talked the crowd through the remarkable event.

Organiser Fred Hollick, of Churches Together in Gravesham, said: "It was absolutely fabulous, I'm so pleased.

"The weather held out for us and I think it was our best turn-out ever so it couldn't have gone better.

"This year because Woolworths has closed we were able to hang some background scenery to add to the production."

The event lasted about an hour and is one of the most respected Easter re-enactments in the south east.

Music for the event was performed by the Salvation Army band as the scenes were acted out, and led by Reverend Victor Lawrence, who recently retired as vicar of Milton Church.

n On Saturday the annual Sikh Vaisakhi celebration is set to be held with a parade through the town centre. Less than a week later on Thursday, April 23 hundreds of children are expected to take part in Gravesham's second St George's Day parade.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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