Easter parade resurrected

Rev. David Hands MBE of the Church of the Nazareen in Millfield.
Rev. David Hands MBE of the Church of the Nazareen in Millfield.
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CHURCHES have united to replace a historic parade that was scrapped amid a cash shortage and red tape.

Organisers hope that a service to be held at Sunderland’s Mowbray Park’s bandstand on Good Friday will become an annual highlight and replace the city’s Easter parade.

For the past 200 years, there has been a march through the streets of Sunderland on Good Friday.

But, after a shake-up in health and safety rules, the tradition was brought to an end last year as organisers couldn’t afford to fund their specific Event Safety Plan to meet guidelines.

The problem arose when police relinquished traffic management, as they wereobliged to under new laws, meaning organisers had to sort out and fund their own plan.

But now it’s hoped that a new tradition could begin.

Reverend David Hands, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, in Millfield, said: “Many people were disappointed at the loss of the Good Friday parade but we want to start a new tradition in the form of having a public service.”

It’s hoped hundreds will attend the service which starts at 1pm on Friday and will include speaker Andy Osenton from Youth for Christ, hymns and a bible reading from Matthew’s Gospel.

Rev Hands, who represents the West End Churches, added: “Everyone can come along and we will not be holding up any traffic as it will be in the park. All the churches in the city have been invited which amounts to about 50.

“We want this to become an annual event to show that the Christian faith is still alive on Wearside. This is an opportunity to celebrate what the Lord has done for us.”

The Good Friday Procession of Witnesses once drew tens of thousands, but for years numbers have been falling and about 400 people took part in 2009, many following the Salvation Army band from Rutland Street, Millfield, down Hylton Road, St Mark’s Road and Chester Road before heading to the Civic Centre to sing hymns.