GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (April 11, 2009)--On a day when Christians worldwide remember the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth, thunderclouds and heavy rain may have been more appropriate. Instead, the forty or so participants in the Micah Center's Good Friday observance hit the streets of the Heartside neighborhood beneath blue skies.
This is not to say that this was a typical spring afternoon stroll.
The Stations of the Cross commemoration, which began and ended at Heartside Ministries, led the gathering to five additional sites in the downtown area. At each stop, participants recognized local efforts to serve the city's marginalized but lamented injustices that nevertheless remain.
Heartside Ministries, an agency meeting the needs of Grand Rapids' homeless and transient population, was a fitting site for the service. Some members of the Heartside community joined the procession, and much of the litany participants followed focused on the plight of the poor and marginalized sectors of society.
"It was nice to see the intersection of the Micah Center and the justice issues it's concerned about," said Micah Center member Tera Dent. She elaborated, explaining that holding such an event in the downtown area forced particpants to observe the products of injustice firsthand.
Vern Hoffman, founder of the Micah Center, was pleased with what he called "a good turnout."
The event attracted the attention of The Grand Rapids Press, entering the Micah Center's efforts to pursue justice into public consciousness. Charley Honey, religion editor, attended the event with a camera crew and produced a feature story in Saturday's edition of The Press. The article can also be viewed online at mLive.
Last year, Kooyman led a group of fifteen to twenty faithful participants through wind and snow on an unseasonably cold Good Friday.
This year's installment of the justice-themed Stations of the Cross, which was initiated last year by Kate Kooyman, attracted a strong contingent of justice-seekers. The weather certainly didn't hurt.
"I thought everything went wonderfully," Kooyman commented afterwards via email.
Kooyman partnered this year with other Micah Center members as well as Glenn Swier, a Western Theological Seminary staffer who also took part in the event's organizing efforts in 2008.
After the Stations observance, a number of those in attendance remarked how spiritually meaningful the event was. "You know me, I'll do anything for Jesus," said Tammy, of Grand Rapids.
Questions about replicating the event again during next year's Lenten season surfaced, encouraging the Micah Center as a whole to continue its efforts to bring justice issues to the forefront of public consciousness.
Brian Paff, The Micah Center