Humility and coming together in the name of Jesus Christ were themes at the Good Friday Ecumenical Service at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Tacoma.
The annual event started in 2008. It is co-sponsored by 13 churches in Tacoma, University Place and Fircrest, with three new participating churches this year.
The pastors represented Christian faith groups from Protestants to Baptists to Pentecostals, whose doctrines often keep them apart.
“It’s pretty unusual to get this range of churches together to worship,” said St. Andrew’s pastor, the Rev. Martin Yabroff.
About 50 people gathered Friday to commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
Melodies from the organist echoed through the church as families, couples and solo worshipers of all ages filed into the pews ahead of the noon service.
Harry and Sandy Holliday, a Lakewood couple who go to Fircrest United Methodist Church, said they attend every year.
“It’s an ideal dream,” Sandy Holliday said. “Working together. Many hands.”
Nine pastors offered remarks centered on a common theme: unity.
All spoke about the love and sacrifice of Christ and the power of God.
The Rev. JT Burk of Mount Cross Lutheran Church spoke about the congregants’ shared mission.
“We don’t see strangers,” he said. “Rather, we see brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The Rev. Robyn Hogue of Skyline Presbyterian Church talked directly to the children, saying she was pleased to see them on such an important day.
She said that despite the co-sponsors’ different houses of worship, they’re all members of one church that “belongs to Jesus.”
Yabroff noted that the spirit of the shared service is underscored in the Bible.
“Saint Paul dreamed of this,” he said, “gathering together in humility.”
He added that many differences exist between the churches and within each individual congregation. But they’re all united by “one Lord, one faith,” he said.
Following the service, the Rev. Stephanie White of Mason United Methodist Church said the event sends an important message: “It shows the rest of the world that we’re united as Christians.”
Tacoma resident Carrie Bland, youth director for Mason United Methodist, said it’s especially important for the children to learn about diversity within Christianity.
“It helps them understand that there’s a larger church,” she said.
Yabroff encouraged everyone — including those who might be unsure of their place in the religious community — to attend one of the many Easter services Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
“I’m confident God will be there,” he said.