PUBLISHED: 13:23 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:37 23 August 2010
HUNDREDS of shoppers and residents were transported 2,000 years into the past on Good Friday as they watched the crucifixion of Christ. Organised by Churches Together in Gravesham, bringing together the congregations of a number of Christian denomination
HUNDREDS of shoppers and residents were transported 2,000 years into the past on Good Friday as they watched the crucifixion of Christ.
Organised by Churches Together in Gravesham, bringing together the congregations of a number of Christian denominations, the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus was played out through Gravesend town centre.
The tradition started in 2003 and has since grown to incorporate a cast of about 20, including Roman soldiers, Pontius Pilot and the murderer Barabas.
Martin Harris, a member of Gravesend Methodist Church, who directed the pageant, said: "It is a very exciting event. We have only had two rehearsals and only one of them with the stage. In all it has probably involved about 30 different people many of whom haven't done it before so they were really looking forward to seeing it all unfold.
"The event is getting more and more popular each year. It is an important message."
Beginning at St George's Church, a series of processions saw firstly Barabas, then the two thieves brought to the corner of New Road and High Street where the crowd was assembled.
As Easter hymns were sung, the second procession entered New Road, Jesus, played by Mark Cluett, dragging a full sized cross, whipped by two Roman soldiers and followed by the weeping mother Mary.
Narrated by Mr Harris, the story of Jesus' trial, the freeing of Barabas and the nailing to the cross were all played out to a hushed audience, followed by his death and subsequent resurrection.
Visiting speaker Stuart Davison, from the South East Baptist Association then delivered a sermon before worshippers were invited to attend a full service on Windmill Hill.
Chris Stone, Reverend of St Georges Church, Church Street, Gravesend, said: "It is important as an opportunity for the churches to come together to work to bring Christians and non-Christians together to talk about what we believe in.
"The hope is that people will come shopping, see what is going on and be drawn in. that is why we come through the town and I think it does attract a lot of attention."
Joannne Weeden, 46, Bader Walk, Northfleet, said: "It is definitely still important. It is a way for us as Christians to spread the good news and in a way that is unique.
"All towns do it differently but I think it is an excellent tradition.