During the first decade of the 21st century, some 5,000 people would gather in Surrey’s Chandos Pattison auditorium each Good Friday to worship and consider the implications of Calvary.
In 2013, the leaders of a loose-knit pastors’ group known as Church of Surrey decided it was time to give the Good Friday service a sabbatical.
The Good Friday Service is back this year, April 18. Kevin Cavanaugh will be the preacher; he hopes the occasion will be one where worshippers will consider the premise that “unity matters.” He wants to put the focus on “the cross of Christ, as the heart of forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration” – all emphases that Good Friday has traditionally helped to shape.
Cavanaugh, who is senior pastor at Cedar Grove Baptist Church, suggests that “unity does make a difference as Christians in a city-region work, walk and live together” in their larger communities.
Church of Surrey is a gathering of pastors that has ebbed and flowed in Surrey through the years. While it has engaged in many activities to encourage unity among evangelical and charismatic churches, the Good Friday service has been its forte, so to speak.
In the early years, three identical services packed out the 1,500 seat auditorium, named for the father of industrialist and Christian philanthropist Jim Pattison. The younger Pattison, now in his 80s, substantively funded Pacific Academy, the Christian K-12 school of which the auditorium is a part. Chandos Pattison, his son has noted on many occasions, came to faith through hearing the singing in a little evangelical church in downtown Saskatoon, at a low point in his life.
So, in a sense, the auditorium is, historically, a good place to resurrect the Good Friday worship experience that has been a part of Surrey for more than a decade.
Cavanaugh notes that Church of Surrey is not the only Good Friday event in the community. During the year of hiatus, several churches began their own services and, having started what they see to be a good thing in their community, will continue them this year.
In fact, historically, Good Friday services have been a part of the Lenten calendar in many liturgically-oriented Catholic and Protestant churches. Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, is part of that calendar. Anglican churches in Surrey, for example, have a website that enumerates all the Lenten worship experiences in local parishes, including Good Friday services.
With respect to the music and worship style for the Church of Surrey service, Jason Strain notes that there will be some changes from previous services.
Strain, who is worship arts pastor at Community of Hope and a music teacher at Regent Christian Academy, both in the Newton-Sullivan area of Surrey, says the hope at this year’s service is to encourage the congregation to “sing together in a way that they can hear each other singing.” That approach, he suggests, could encourage the sense of unity that Cavanaugh hopes to establish, as he pursues the “unity matters” theme.