Local parishioners honor Jesus’ mission through remembrance walk, food donation

  • Parishioners and Rev. Heather Blais, left, with son, Lucas, read during an outdoor Good Friday service in front of the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Parishioner Steven Houghton reads during an outdoor Good Friday service in front of the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Parishioner Steven Houghton, right, and Joe Toritto, left, read during an outdoor Good Friday service by The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in front of Greenfield's courthouse on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Parishioners from The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew walk down Hope Street past Greenfield's courthouse on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Con Trowbridge, right, participates in an outdoor Good Friday service outside the John W. Olver Transit Center in Greenfield on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • A small food pantry in a converted newspaper box outside The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield, as seen Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Parishioners prepare for an outdoor Good Friday service in front of The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/30/2018 9:45:51 PM

GREENFIELD — There’s a newspaper box outside of the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew that’s been converted into a small food pantry in an effort by parishioners to impact those in need around them — transposing faith into action.

On Good Friday morning, that transposition took another form during “Stations in the Streets,” a 3-mile Good Friday remembrance walk, marking the day those in the Christian faith traditionally reflect on Jesus’ crucifixion.

“We’re going to be walking the streets of Greenfield, stopping at some places we expect Jesus would have stopped if he was still on Earth,” said parishioner Steven Houghton, organizer of the event, to a group of a dozen fellow parishioners gathered in drizzle outside the Church Street church.

Friday’s event, held this week for the second year in a row, was intended “to recognize that the work that Jesus did in Palestine 2,000 years ago exists for us today,” Houghton said, before the group stepped off toward the courthouse.

The service incorporated 14 social service buildings to represent the traditional “Stations of the Cross,” a religious ceremony commemorating the final moments in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Good Friday annually falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

“Jesus spent his entire earthly ministry ministering to those on the margins — the prostitutes, tax collectors, widows, people who were invisible. The list isn’t that different today,” said the Rev. Heather Blais, a rector at the church, while traversing Main Street toward Hope Street with her 7-year-old son, Lucas.

A heavy spirit followed those walking. Religious prayers were offered at every stop after a short reading describing the roll each service plays in the community.

“Unlike most of us, those on the margins do not have the freedom that comes with owning a car,” Houghton read in front of the John W. Olver Transit Center on Olive Street. “Sometimes, services are unavailable to them because the buses don’t run when the services are offered. This is one of the crosses they must bear.”

Around the Easter holiday, Blais said it’s easy for those of the Christian faith to fall into traditions without deeply contemplating what it means to follow Jesus. For many of those walking, including parishioner Con Trowbridge, getting out of the pew and into the street was a way to disrupt religious norms and “listen rather than read.”

“Right now, I hear other things,” Trowbridge said, pausing to talk as the group trekked up Miles Street toward Green Fields Market. For example, she noticed a cardinal that landed on a branch, while she prayed that people would take better care of the Earth.

Josie Queneau, another parishioner participating in the service, said taking to the streets on Good Friday was a way to look across class divides, as Jesus did, and made “Stations of the Cross come alive.”

“It’s a way to put my faith into action, and a way to share with the community,” Queneau said, noting that she has also learned a lot about resources in the community, and as such is better equipped to help people in need.

Looking ahead to Easter Sunday, the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew will hold special holiday services at 8 and 10 a.m. When the new week begins, after the Christian season of Lent, Blais said Christians shouldn’t stop putting their faith into action.

“If you’re experiencing the overwhelming love of God, you’ll go out and be God’s hands and feet in the world,” Blais said. “Faith results in action.”

For more information on the local congregation, visit: www.saintsjamesandandrew.org. The food pantry can be found next to the church, just off Federal Street and about a block down Church Street.

You can reach Andy Castillo at: acastillo@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo




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