Churchgoers prepare for annual Good Friday cross-raising atop Sunderland’s Tunstall Hill

A scene from last year's annual Good Friday Procession of Witness at Tunstall Hill
A scene from last year's annual Good Friday Procession of Witness at Tunstall Hill
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AN EASTER pilgrimage on Wearside is expected to attract its biggest crowd ever tomorrow.

The raising of the cross at Tunstall Hill will be held for the 51st time, bringing together worshippers from across Wearside to mark Good Friday and commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.

Chris Howson, far right.

Chris Howson, far right.

Reverend Chris Howson, who is based at Sunderland Minister and is chaplain of Sunderland University, will lead the ecumenical service, which involves all churches in the area.

He said: “After the anniversary, we hope this will be our biggest year and we are expecting hundreds will turn out.

“There was the Great North Passion last year, so this year we’re hoping for a bigger turnout and we’re looking at good weather and a spiritual and reflective Good Friday.”

The event will begin at 9am from the Minster, with the liberation of the 12ft cross from the Minister, with the team carrying the cross to gather at the east side of Tunstall Hill, near to the allotments, at 10am.

A scene from last year's annual Good Friday Procession of Witness at Tunstall Hill

A scene from last year's annual Good Friday Procession of Witness at Tunstall Hill

They will then walk up the hill, where the cross will be raised, with the service to feature prayers led by St Mary’s Church priest Father Marc Lyden-Smith, along with traditional Easter hymns and Taize chanting.

It will also, for the second-year running, include a passion play after it proved popular at last year’s event.

The tradition was started in 1964 by leaders at St Cecilia’s Church, in Ryhope Road, and has grown over the years.

Hundreds on people gathered at Tunstall Hill for the Annual Good Friday Procession of Witness last year.

Hundreds on people gathered at Tunstall Hill for the Annual Good Friday Procession of Witness last year.

Hundreds on people gathered at Tunstall Hill for the Annual Good Friday Procession of Witness last year.

Hundreds on people gathered at Tunstall Hill for the Annual Good Friday Procession of Witness last year.