The Warwick Ministerium will hold its annual Good Friday service this year – with a twist.
Due to COVID-19, the April 2 service celebrating the resurrection of Jesus will be held outdoors, at the band shell in Lititz Springs Park, for the first time in the event’s history. Masks and social distancing will be required at the approximately half-hour service. Worshippers may bring their own chairs if they prefer to sit beyond the benches in the band shell. The event will begin at 12:15 p.m.
The Rev. Jerry McGrath, pastor of Lititz United Methodist Church and president of the ministerium, said the group comprises more than 25 churches and Christian organizations. The ministerium has hosted a Good Friday service for more than 25 years, usually at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lititz or Lititz Church of the Brethren. Last year, it was held virtually.
“We really wanted to do it (in person) this year,” said the Rev. Kenneth Miller, pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Congregational Church, 2120 Main St., Rothsville, who will speak at the service. “We rallied around the idea of the park.”
McGrath, who will lead the service, said 80-100 people usually attend, but he has no idea how many people will attend this year. He hopes some people strolling in the park will stop by.
“That is the goal this year,” McGrath said, “to connect with new people. With all the chaos in the world, we want to reach out to people and draw them in. We want to offer them a sense of meaning and hope. Good Friday offers consistency and stability. It’s been going on for 2,000 years.”
Lititz Borough Parks Supervisor Jerry McKonly said the band shell can easily seat 310 people. Another 100 people can sit in chairs they bring on the macadam behind the band shell, and perhaps another 100 on the other side of the stream, all socially distanced.
“The acoustics in the band shell are really good,” McKonly said.
Miller, accompanied by a guitarist, will sing praise and worship songs as a prelude to the service. A student in the Lititz Church of the Brethren TNT youth ministry will carry a cross to the front of the band shell at the beginning of the service.
The Rev. Kyle Buckwalter, of Lititz, will direct music, including congregational hymn singing and a male quartet from Warwick High School. Members include Noah Johnson, AJ Germaine, Caleb Goss and Nathan Knudson.
The Rev. Eric Landram, lead pastor of Lititz Church of the Brethren, 300 E. Orange St., will read Luke 23:26-43 and speak on “The Perspective From the Crowd.”
The Rev. Jim Haun, pastor of St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, 222 N. Broad St., Lititz, will read Luke 23:44-47 and speak on “The Perspective from the Centurion.”
The Rev. John Knudson, lead pastor of LifeSpring Fellowship, 490 W. Lincoln Ave., Lititz, will read Luke 23:47-48 and speak on “The Perspective from the Followers.”
Miller will read Colossians 1:15-20, give concluding comments and invite worshippers to touch the cross as they depart, while he sings.
“Good Friday reminds us what our salvation is all about,” Miller said, referring to the Bible verse John 3:16. “For God so Loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Warwick Ministerium also hosts Sunday Vespers in the Park in the band shell from the first Sunday after July 4 through the end of August, and the National Day of Prayer Service is usually held there in May. This year, it is scheduled for May 6.