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Hundreds attend crucifixion re-enactment in Epsom

To shouts of “crucify him!” a man was led through the streets of Epsom on Friday before being roped to a cross in front of a jeering mob.

More than 500 people turned out to take part in the Procession of Witness which this year, for the first time, included a “rowdy” street procession along the High Street, part of a costume-drama re-enactment of Jesus’ trial, death and resurrection.

Despite the cold, the sun shone brightly as the crowd assembled in the clinic car park, on Dullshot Road where John Padwick, chairman of Churches Together in Epsom, told them: “Remember that we are here acting out what happened on that day many years ago. You are invited to say ‘crucify him, crucify him’ at various points. So please feel free to join in.”

Reverend Sue Curtis, of Christ Church, Epsom, invited the gathering to imagine themselves as part of the noisy and restless crowd in Jerusalem some 2,000 years earlier, baying for Jesus’ crucifixion and blood.

Punctually at 10am, dressed in a long white robe and wearing a red scarf, Jesus stood trial surrounded by the chief and high priests.

Following a tirade of taunts from the crowd, Jesus carrying part of the cross led the procession along Church Street, through the High Street and into the marketplace, where a stage had been erected outside the Wetherspoon pub.

Asked by Pontius Pilate what should be done with him, the crowd shouted ‘crucify him, crucify him!’.

Children from St Martin’s School together with those playing Jesus’ parents acted out their horror as the cross was fastened together and Jesus roped onto it.

A hymn was then sung ahead of a narration from Rev Simon Talbott, of St Martin’s Church, Epsom. Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, then performed several monologues.

Another hymn was sung before Rev Curtis gave a further narration.

The children then reflected on Christ’s crucifixion before Paula Smith, chair of Churches Together in Ewell, led a prayer. Young children’s choir Song Squad then gave a performance ahead of a re-enactment of three women at Jesus’ tomb.

Afterwards, Mary Wood, a member of the congregation at St Barnabas’ Church, Epsom, who has been coming to the event for 15 years, said: “I think it was a great improvement having the drama.

“In the past, we walked from the car park in silence. Someone described it as a pious silence.

“But today, being part of the crowd, we were reacting – it was involvement.”

Meryl Smith, a member of the congregation at Epsom Methodist Church, said the silence in previous years had made those taking part seem “gloomy and irrelevant”.

But she said this time: “It was more a spectacle than an atrocity. People on the way asked me what was happening and ‘Why had he got that beam across his shoulder?’

“So people who don’t know about the Christian story were asking questions about the drama, which was great.”

Rev Curtis, who directed the drama and singing, said: “The turnout has been great. I am delighted with the way it’s gone – chilly but much better than it could have been. A real team effort: the acting, staging, making costumes, the sound.”

Reverend Nick Oborski of Epsom Methodist Church said: “Seeing people at the side of the streets as we marched through town, just watching and standing still, brought back the Easter message to people who seemed to have lost it.

“I think nowadays it’s about people seeing it and reliving it – and drama brings things to life for people in a way that words don’t.

“There are certainly more people (than at past processions). I certainly counted more than 400 people when we started off, and by the time we finished there were about 500 to 600 people here, which is a tremendous encouragement.”

Craig Donovan, who played Jesus, thought the event ran very well even though there had been no rehearsal of the procession itself.

“Yeah, we were delighted,” he said, “Hopefully it set people up for Easter. I was amazed at how many people there were. I was really impressed.”

He added: “Last time I acted I was a devil, so it seemed appropriate. I was in Moseley, in Birmingham, we were doing a re-enactment of a medieval mystery play. I have come full circle.”

courtesy and (c) Epsom Guardian – Francisco Diaz

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