Local churches came together Friday to resume the annual tradition of the Delaware Community CrossWalk but added a new layer this year as they reflected and prayed for the people of Ukraine.
The CrossWalk has been a tradition for the Delaware Ministerial Association for many years but was put on hold the last two years because of the pandemic. This year, however, the churches added statements and testimonies from Ukrainians about the ongoing Russian invasion at each of the 14 “Stations of the Cross.”
Ginny Teitt, pastor of Concord Presbyterian Church, said Friday she was glad to see the event return to Delaware.
“It was pretty powerful,” Teitt said. “We would read the traditional liturgy sentence and then read a comment or statement from a real person (in Ukraine). We haven’t had this service for two years because of COVID. … It really felt like a stone was rolled away. It felt like Resurrection almost. It felt like the beginning of something new.”
Father Brett Garland, priest of St. Mary Parish in Delaware, joined the community in 2020. Friday’s event was the first time he took part in the CrossWalk in downtown Delaware.
Garland added the stations of the cross have a history of being a virtual pilgrimage, and the ministerial association unanimously agreed to pray and meditate on the suffering of Ukrainians during the event.
“We all thought it would be a poignant and powerful reflection for us to meditate on,” Garland said. “It was a way for us to accompany Christ in the suffering of the Ukrainian people. That became out focal point. It was really beautiful to work with that group of ministers. … There’s already a desire to help in some way.”
Teitt said Ukraine was “on all of the pastors’ hearts” heading into the event.
“It’s a heavy, dark time, and everyone feels like we can’t face the suffering of Jesus without naming some of the suffering that’s going on in the world,” she said.
Teitt added the new format may be repeated in the future to pray and meditate on the suffering of others around the world.
Garland said he printed 75 programs for the event and estimated that more than 100 residents attended.
“We ran out of programs, that was a good sign,” Garland said. “There were a lot of people from our own congregation here, but also a lot from (outside the church) that I did not know. So that was great to see. That’s what it’s meant to be — a time for all of us to pray together.”
Reverend Patricia Stout, pastor at Old Stone Presbyterian Church, said the offering collected during the Good Friday service will be used to help Ukrainians in several ways, including commissioning a Ukrainian artist to create an icon for the church and using the money to benefit Ukrainian refugees.
Teitt said her congregation has a special connection to a family in Ukraine, and they have been collecting money and sending it electronically to them to support them during the war.
“We’ve been doing this grassroots (movement) and sending them money,” Teitt said. “They showed us what they’ve been able to do with one small group of people getting money into the hands of families serving other families. As the money comes in, we get it right over to them. There’s so many things that get stuck in red tape and take a long time. The money comes in and we get it over there in almost realtime.”
Teitt said she can be reached for more information about the donations at 740-815-3007.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.