Column: Bring passion to our parks

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
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As a youngster, I remember going to the Abbey cinema in Liverpool to see the biblical epic, King of Kings, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus.

Although the star seemed more suited to a Scandinavian drama than portraying a young Jewish man, nevertheless the actor, or rather the story, touched me.

A group of us would regularly come from this cinema and play about outside, usually kicking a football. On that occasion I wanted to be alone and somehow process what I had just seen in my own manner. The person of Jesus and the Christian story had got under my skin.

Not surprisingly, I have been a supporter ever since of different ways of retelling the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’. This weekend people will be gathering from noon on Saturday, April 8 in Manchester Cathedral Gardens for a Passion Play involving actors and many volunteers.

They will be telling the story of Jesus’ teachings, his betrayal, his trial and his passion as he moves towards his death and glorious resurrection. Using live drama and music they will include witness accounts involving a cast of local people.

I have never been to Oberammergau – scene of the world-famous passion play – but I have seen one in America and more recently locally in Garstang and Preston. I understand that it was not so many years ago that the Lancaster churches, led by Christ Church Lancaster, put on such a passion play in the city.

It was a powerful spectacle and moving for all those who took part.

Having seen the outdoor productions in Williamson Park in the summer what a fantastic venue it could be to stage such an event!

Communities need community events to continually refresh them. Passion plays can’t draw everyone in, but they can be a most successful all-embracing community event.

Volunteers bring a range of skills, experience or material assistance, whether donation of wood for the cross; willingness to stitch costumes for the performance or help with publicity for the event.

We’re too late for this year – Holy Week is almost upon us – but maybe next year?