One faith on Good Friday

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Each year on Good Friday, all Christian faiths mourn the death of Christ, but at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna, members of four distinct Christian denominations - Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and Lutheran - meet to meditate on the crucifixion of Christ together.

"We're gathered from our own faiths, but (once there) we see how our faiths are interlaced and how little the differences are," said Patrice Roe, communications director at Our Lady of Good Counsel.

For the past seven years, Protestants from nearby churches have joined the Our Lady of Good Counsel community to pray the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. Reflections on the stations by St. Francis de Sales were read to honor the Salesian oblates who staff the parish.

On the afternoon of March 25, the church was filled. "I love it; every year it grows," said Sister Sharon Cahill, director of liturgy. "I always remind myself, 'Ah, I have to purchase more Stations of the Cross booklets,'" she said.

Father William J. Metzger, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Pastor Beth Neubauer of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Pastor Ray Brill of Wesley United Methodist Church and Pastor Austin Almaguer of Vienna Baptist Church took turns leading the prayers.

Their procession around the church to the14 stations began and ended at the altar. Above the altar hung a life-size wooden crucifix while a red cloth, nails and a crown of thorns lay below.

Each year the churches take turns hosting an ecumenical Thanksgiving for the Shepherd Center, a community center for the elderly. The pastors and church members alike enjoy the chance for fellowship and to worship as a united body of Christ.

"This is only my second time (at stations) because I started as pastor about a year and a half ago," said Almaguer. "So for me coming into the community, it was a really nice welcome that my first Holy Week was shared together," he said.

"The Scriptures are what we have in common," said Neubauer. "Listening to the meditations feeds me."

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016