The message officials from Urban Grace Church and St. Leo’s Catholic Church hope to plant in their congregations this Easter is that God holds us, but people in the world need to hold each other up too.
That is also the idea behind Holy Week, a series of community-based events sponsored by the churches that begin next month during Lent.
“We are focusing on praying for the community and the world,” said Tad Monroe, pastor of Urban Grace Church in downtown Tacoma.
St. Leo’s and Urban Grace partnered to host the event several years ago, Monroe said.
“It’s pretty unique for Catholic and Protestant churches sharing Holy Week services,” he said.
During the program, the churches trade off hosting services for each congregation at each church, and partner for community service projects.
Earlier this month, the program kicked off with an Ash Wednesday service at Urban Grace. The meditative and reflective service marked the traditional beginning of the Lenten season.
Next month, Urban Grace will host two non-traditional Lenten Vespers services, which incorporate worship and prayer that focuses on visual arts, music, poetry and spoken word.
“We try to incorporate different art into each service,” Monroe said. “We invite local artists to read poetry, or we have music and spoken word.”
The service is mostly meditative, and usually attracts small gatherings between 10 and 30 people, Monroe said.
“It’s short, quiet and doesn’t have a lot of traditional elements. It’s about how you experience God and faith through art.”
Another popular event, the neighborhood prayer walk, will return during the program next month. The event, which St. Leo’s started several years ago, takes congregation members on walking tours through downtown and the Hilltop neighborhoods. Members stop at particular places that represent the pain and suffering of our community to sing and pray, Monroe explained.
“We’re calling people to seek justice and peace,” he said.
Participation for each walk varies depending on the weather, but some years the event has attracted crowds as big as 100 people, Monroe said.
Although Holy Week centers on Christian religious holidays, church officials insist the program is open for anyone, of any faith, in the community.
Urban Grace tries to have an open approach to invite people to participate, Monroe said.
“Our philosophy is belong to believe,” he said. “Most people feel like they have to have all the questions answered. We all have questions and we’re all on a journey. No one has all the answers.”
Holy Week Calendar of Events
April 1 – Lenten Taize Service
St. Leo’s Catholic Church (710 S. 13th) will host an ecumenical and meditative worship service at 7 p.m. in partnership monthly with community churches.
April 7 and 14 – Lenten Vespers
Join Urban Grace Church at 7 p.m. for an alternative weekly time of worship and prayer during the Lenten season focusing on the arts: music, poetry, spoken word and visual art.
April 21 – Maundy Thursday Gathering
Join Urban Grace Parlor at 6 p.m. for an evening of food, prayer, worship and the sacrament of Holy Communion as people gather to remember Jesus’ last supper and his mandate for us to love and serve one another.
April 22 – Neighborhood Prayer Walk
This prayer tour walks the downtown and Hilltop neighborhoods singing and praying, stopping at particular places that represent the pain and suffering of our community. Meet at St. Leo’s at noon.
April 22 – Good Friday Service
Both churches will hosts a third annual joint Holy Week service beginning at 4:30 p.m.
April 23 – Holy Saturday Service
Service begins at 10:30 a.m. at Urban Grace Church.
April 24 – Easter Service
All are invited to Urban Grace Church for breakfast (8:30 a.m.) and worship (10:30 a.m.) with congregation and community members feasting and celebrating.\