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Ecumenical service planned for Good Friday

The churches and the community of Hastings will come together to worship and observe Good Friday as they have done for many years.

The Hastings Ministerial Association is hosting the Good Friday ecumenical service at 5 p.m. Friday, March 25, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 2035 15th St. W. Twenty ministers and more than 14 congregations are participating in the service.

“Good Friday is one of the church’s most holy days, commemorating the historical account of Jesus Christ who was condemned for crimes He didn’t commit,” said the Rev. Paris Pasch, founding pastor of Christ’s Family Church. “This service reminds us that Christ was crucified as a result of all the sins of mankind. It reminds us that we each desperately need to be rescued by a savior. In the Christian church this gathering is followed by Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus to new life.

“(This service, too) has taken on a wonderful new life,” said Pasch. “Its primary purpose is to demonstrate that we care about one another in public setting. We like each other,” he said.

“We have been persuaded that how we treat each other does impact each other and the world,” said Pasch. “Once a year, we can show the respect, the affection and the friendship we have for each other.”

Initially, when the Hastings Ministerial Association was formed, it was more of a formal group. That has definitely changed over the years; now it is a group of ministers who are genuine friends, while respecting the different traditions, philosophies and methods in each church.

Pasch does not call the annual service a tradition; rather it is a value – “things we choose because we see a benefit,” he said. “We set aside our individual program formats and we do it together for the day.”

The planning for the service begins months in advance with a smaller committee which discusses the Good Friday theme and the various components including readings and music for service. Some years’ observances have included special drama skits and smaller musical groups.

“We want it to be interesting and welcoming for all,” said Pasch. That includes having as many pastors involved, stressing the unity, making both the welcoming or entrance and the exit as united as possible.

Feedback each year is important.

“We hear, (the community) want(s) the service to be more engaged in he story of Good Friday,” said Weiss.

This year’s service will include a choir of the community, said Pasch.

“The room will be the choir – that will be a great moment when they worship God,” he said. The hymns will be familiar and meaningful to the day.

There will be a welcoming of the pastors when people come into the sanctuary; they will also be together at the end of the service when people exit. As in other years, the ministers will carry the cross to the front of the sanctuary.

“The most wonderful part of this service is simply the joining together of varied facets of the Christian community for the single purpose of worshiping God for His love toward us all through Jesus Christ,” said Pasch. “We will have an abbreviated reading of the passion to tell the story and connect it to a present day reality. We will join in singing great music as a community choir from the pews.

“It’s a gathering of Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Charismatics, Independents, Presbyterians and others who represent a unique expression of the Christian church,” he said. “No single church is promoted but rather all are valued as we purpose to demonstrate for our God and our community that Jesus Christ has made a difference in our lives.”

The offering for the service reaches back into the community as well.

“We want it to reach the community as much as possible,” said Pasch. This year, donations will be given to the Hastings Family Service food shelf. It will have more impact as this month is MN FoodShare month in which the donations are matched.

The Rev. Kelly Weiss has been associate pastor for family care at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church for six years and while she is aware of other ecumenical services in community, this one is special, she said.

“I’ve never seen anything before like this Good Friday service for the value placed with it,” she said. “It is rare.”

Both Pasch and Weiss invite the community to come together for the service and celebrate worship and caring for one another.

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