Lockdown Stories: The Easter Trail
30th March 2021
Easter trail online or in person
Welwyn Garden City, in the heart of the Diocese of St Albans, with almost fifty thousand people has a myriad of different churches each with their own traditions and styles. Usually, Easter signals a unique opportunity to unite around the Easter story and come together for an annual Walk of Witness in the town centre. This is the second year that due to the global pandemic the usual Walk has not been able to take place, leading to Churches in Welwyn Garden City – the collective of Churches across Welwyn Garden City – to come up with a different way to unite around the Easter story in 2021.
Their ingenious idea combines technology and outdoor exercise to create an Easter Trail around the town centre. Using QR codes – simple graphics that can be scanned by a smartphone camera to provide access to online content – ten points across the town centre reflect the ten scriptural stations of the cross for Holy Week. They can be found on a simple map and guide available on the Churches in Welwyn Garden City website to allow individuals, families or groups of 6 to navigate the trail.
Simon Cragg, Associate Minister at Christchurch, has the technical knowledge to create QR codes and, grateful for council support, has managed to place the stations across the town centre in prominent locations, making the trail accessible to anyone. It provides an easy and accessible way for those unfamiliar with the Easter story to learn more, in a method and at a pace that is comfortable to them.
Furthermore, recognising the spread of ages and ability across the different churches particular attention has been given to making the trail accessible. Not only are all the stations on flat, level, ground suitable for walkers and wheelchairs alike each of the stations can be accessed from home on a virtual walk, here.
Working together, different lay and ordained ministers have put together reflections based on the Bible verse of each station – underlining the ecumenical nature of the trail: it brings together leaders from different churches, Church of England, Baptist, Roman Catholic and more.
But, unlike the traditional Stations of the Cross, the trail doesn’t stop at Good Friday! The team have created four ‘Stations of the Resurrection’ in out of town locations such as Stanborough Lakes reflecting particular elements of the Easter story – which Father Norbert Fernandes, Our Lady’s Roman Catholic Church, says creates a sense of rootedness and connectedness between the locations in the story and the physical and familiar places in Welwyn Garden City, helping to bring the story alive for people as they follow the trail.
With not being able to physically gather as in recent years the Easter trail provides an opportunity for a shared experience across Holy Week for people from all different churches across Welwyn Garden City – and beyond! As Revd Emma Hopegood Jones, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, says, this has been an opportunity to do something together rather than just talk about it.