Church takes a break in staging of Easter story

Chris Cooke as Jesus is led towards crucifixion in the  Peace Gardens, as Christ Church Stannington brings the easter stioy to the city
Chris Cooke as Jesus is led towards crucifixion in the Peace Gardens, as Christ Church Stannington brings the easter stioy to the city

IT has become part of the Sheffield Christian calendar but there will be no outdoor performance of the Easter story this year.

Members of Christ Church at Stannington, who have re-enacted the crucifixion and resurrection both in the village and in the city centre, have decided it would be too problematic on this occasion.

In particular, key members of the play have either left the area or are on holiday.

“Since we have decided not to do it, people have been ringing up asking when it is,” said the vicar of Christ Church, the Rev Canon Philip West.

“I know people will be disappointed, but sometimes you have to say it is too much for us. I hope we’ll be able to pick it up again next year.”

The Stannington congregation turned its attention to telling the story of Easter in costume, music, narration and mime after drawing crowds for its Christmas Live! performances around the village, complete with actors and real animals.

The first Easter performance was in 2001 in the village, attracting 600 people, but it was eventually taken to larger audiences in the city centre, where the event was staged last year.

Performances have always been organised amid apprehension over the weather, with snow always a possibility during early Easters.

This year, the timing promised warmer weather, but school holidays have depleted potential numbers of participants in addition to those who have left the diocese.

The absence means the church can focus on other Holy Week activities, said Mr West, but a website has been created to help other churches that may want to consider giving their own performances (www.stanningtonplays.sheffieldfaiths.org.uk).

“We hope people in other parts of the country will pick it up online,” he said.

The date of Easter varies each year and in 2011 is one of the latest dates possible.

Churches across the Diocese of Sheffield, which includes most of South Yorkshire as well as parts of the East Riding, are expecting to attract some of the largest congregations of the year.