Sunderland community gather for Tunstall Hill and Mowbray Park for Good Friday traditions

Sunderland's Christian community have gathered in the sun to uphold two of the city's Good Friday traditions at both Tunstall Hill and Mowbray Park.

By Poppy Kennedy
Friday, 19 April, 2019, 16:02

Hundreds of people gathered as the two sections of the structure were carried up the peak, placed together and lifted into place.

The ceremony, which was organised by the University of Sunderland Catholic Chaplaincy, began with prayers and performance by the Songbirds.

Passion Play at Tunstall Hill

A Passion Play, written and performed by international students, was held before further prayers and reflection were led by Father Marc Lyden-Smith, of St Mary’s RC Church in Bridge Street.

Father Lyden-Smith said: "It went really well. I think people find it very moving. I'm very proud of the students who put on a brilliant performance and the girls in the choir did a fantastic job."

Producers from Fulwell 73 were also filming at the event for the next season of the hit Netflix documentary Sunderland Til I Die.

During the ceremony, Fr Lyden-Smith prayed for the city and Sunderland AFC to prosper.

Crowds gather to watch the Passion Play at Tunstall Hill

"They're filming for the second season of Sunderland 'Til I Die. They're wanting to bring a new dimension to the series - more about community life which this is such an important part of.

"There's a real community spirit here. There's people that don't go to church and this is their only experience of church."

Among the crowds were Lynn Dodds with grandchildren Holly and Faye Richardson and their mum Louise Richardson.

Lynn said: "We come along every year rain or shine. The children love the play and it's a really special event."

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Lifting the cross

Veronica Wilkinson, of Sunderland, added: "The play was just so moving last year - I've told every man and his dog about it.

"The Songbirds are performing and their voices are just beautiful. It's a real community event."

A service and concert were also held in Sunderland's Mowbray park this afternoon.

More than 120 people attended the annual event, which replaced Wearside’s historic Easter parade five years ago, as churches from around the city gathered for Good Friday.

Annual multi-church service and concert in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, on Good Friday.

Reverend David Hands, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, in Millfield, led the service which had readings from a number of churches in the area.

"We had music from the Salvation Army Band at Monkwearmouth which was brilliant. The singers from the Living Praise Choir did a musical sketch on the death of Lazarus.

"The morale being God's timing is always perfect.

"It was a really lovely atmosphere to be a Christian and be a part of a ceremony like this."

Monkwearmouth Salvation Army Band performed at Mowbray Park
Annual multi-church service and concert in Mowbray Park