Easter story told in shopping centre
CHRISTIANS of all denominations are to don Biblical costumes to help tell the Easter story to Portsmouth shoppers.
They will be joined by 12-foot high puppets representing Jesus and two of his disciples for the open-air event in the city centre on Saturday 12 April.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics, as well as members of the Salvation Army and Pentecostal churches will be among those taking part in the event - entitled 'The Easter Story' - in Commercial Road and the Cascades shopping centre.
Churches Together in Central Portsmouth commissioned Christian group Top Cat Theatre Company to help them tell the stories of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday in an arresting way. The company worked with the people behind the giant puppets used in the Notting Hill Carnival to make three huge Biblical figures.
The congregations involved will turn up in Biblical costume and follow the puppets into the city centre from Portsmouth's Roman Catholic cathedral, acting and singing as if they were the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem - the event celebrated on Palm Sunday.
They will sing and wave flags and banners as they process along Commercial Road and into the shopping centre, where they will watch extracts from the stories of Good Friday and Easter Sunday as told by the theatre company.
It will be the first time Churches Together in Central Portsmouth has tried to present the full Easter story in this way. In previous years the congregations have joined forces for a worship service on Commercial Road on Good Friday.
Canon Bob White, vicar of St Mary's Anglican Church in Fratton, said: "We thought it was important to tell people who don't normally come to church what exactly it is that we celebrate on days like Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday - many of them may have no idea.
"And, after inviting Top Cat Theatre Company to take part in the Good Friday service on Commercial Road last year, we realised they could probably tell the story in drama better than we could in words.
"We're looking forward to turning up in blankets, sheets and other costumes that might at least give an idea of first century Palestine, and waving banners and flags to represent Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem."
Anyone who would like to join in should turn up in costume at Portsmouth's RC Cathedral, Edinburgh Road, at 12.45pm on April 12. For more details, see www.portsmouth.anglican.org or www.topcattheatre.com
Among the other ecumenical Easter events planned around the diocese are a joint sunrise service on the shores of Langstone Harbour. All the churches in Copnor will gather for a simple service and breakfast from 5.45am-7am on Easter Sunday. Anyone who would like to come is invited to bring wood for the fire and their own breakfast.