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More Christian gatherings are cancelled

09 April 2020

No Passion plays in Trafalgar Square or Oberammergau


Standing with the Catalan giant donkey Sancho in Oberammergau last month are a farmer, Toni Scholler, and the donkey’s owner, Elke Kerler, as well as two camels, Nalani and Mirell. The animals were past of the cast of this year’s cancelled Passion play: Sancho was going to be carrying Christ

Standing with the Catalan giant donkey Sancho in Oberammergau last month are a farmer, Toni Scholler, and the donkey’s owner, Elke Kerler, as well as ...

THE Passion play staged annually in Trafalgar Square, in London, has been cancelled, the latest in a range of events called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

About 20,000 people were expected to attend it on Good Friday. The play is organised by the Wintershall organisation. Another production scheduled for Guildford on Holy Saturday has also been cancelled.

On a much greater impact, however, in Germany, the Oberammergau Passion play, hed only once every ten years, and for which a cast of 2500 has been rehearsing, has been postponed. It was due to begin 103 day-long performances from 16 May (Features, 24 January).

The play’s origins date from 1633, when the Bavarian Alpine villagers promised God that they would perform it every decade if he spared them from the plague sweeping through Europe. The current organisers hope to stage the play in 2022.

Further ahead, the annual Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage has also been cancelled. The Shrine said that, even though the event was not due to take place until August, organising it would prove “extremely difficult”, as the Shrine itself and the village’s businesses are closed for the foreseeable future.

“Our commitment to the health and safety of all those participating means this is the only viable option,” a statement from the Shrine said.

The Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network, an umbrella organisation of street pastors and chaplains, has asked people to take an individual prayer walk as their permitted form of daily exercise on Good Friday.

Although the hundreds of Good Friday processions of witness which would normally take place have been cancelled, the network urged Christians to pray for their neighbourhoods while taking a constitutional.

Spring Harvest, which announced last month that its Easter events would not be held (News, 27 March), has now said that it will instead be running an online-only conference programme, via YouTube, from Easter Monday to Friday. Free to anyone who wishes to watch, Spring Harvest Home will offer Bible teaching, live worship, and seminars and workshops throughout the day.

Focus, an annual summer festival for churches in the network of Holy Trinity, Brompton, has also now been cancelled. Those who have already booked can transfer their tickets to the 2021 event, or have until 26 April to request a refund.

Greenbelt, scheduled for the August Bank Holiday weekend, is now almost the only large Christian gahering still in the diary for this summer. In their latest update, the organisers have said that they do not know for sure whether it will go ahead, but are waiting to see how the pandemic develops before making a decision.

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