Boston’s homeless remembered during Good Friday march
The religious community at Trinity Church remembered Jesus’ suffering with a march through the city Friday afternoon, stopping to pray and sing while reflecting on the city’s displaced homeless population, violence, and problems caused by racial and economic disparity.
Under a gray, cloudy sky, more than 45 people marched through the Back Bay in the 15th Good Friday walk called “Stations of the City,” modeled after the Stations of the Cross, on the day when Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus.
The walk began at the historic Trinity Church at Copley Square, making eight stops at symbolic places nearby.
In his sermon, the Rev. William W. Rich spoke of troubles that plagued Jesus during his lifetime that are still present today.
Outside the former Boston Police Department headquarters, which is now the Loews Boston Hotel, Rich asked the gatherers to remember people of color who have been victimized by police.
“I want you to understand that I’m not accusing the Boston police by stopping here,” Rich said, as he spoke of incidents of law enforcement violence outside of Boston over the last year, including the fatal shootings of black men by white police officers. “If Jesus were alive today, he would be speaking up against this.”
Rain started to fall as Rich spoke, and he made a special point to note that Jesus was a person of color.
The prayers and discussion remained somber when the group stopped at the Central Reform Temple of Boston to remember violence against Jewish people. Rich explained that in the past, some Catholics murdered Jews on Good Friday.
“We stop here to remember the horror done in Jesus’ name to his brothers and sisters,” Rich said.
In between stops, Robert E. Yearwood, the verger at Trinity Church, carried a bare, wooden cross as the group walked narrow Back Bay streets. A verger is a lay minister who assists the church’s clergy.
While Rich, who was accompanied by the Rev. Rainey G. Dankel, spoke of violence, he also led prayer for the homeless population in Boston, many of whom were suddenly asked to leave shelters they were staying in when the Long Island Bridge was shut down in the fall.
Outside the Old South Church, Rich and members of the organization Boston Warm discussed the struggles the homeless population faced during the winter.
David Albaugh from Boston Warm read an altered version of Psalm 23, a prayer for protection from danger and death that he personalized to remember the homeless.
Albaugh said the Old South Church is home to a chapter of Boston Warm and took in numerous people during the winter months.
Rebecca Bowler, another member of Boston Warm, told the crowd, “We’ve had some amazing days . . . but we’ve had some horrible days filled with pain, tears.”
Despite the sad times, Bowler said some of the homeless people who stayed at the church during the winter have found jobs and permanent housing.
Later in the march Friday, one of the parishioners drew some change out of her pocket to place in the cup of a man sitting on the street.
In addition to displacing the homeless, the closure of Long Island also forced people out of drug recovery programs. The group stopped at one point on Boylston Street and prayed for those struggling with addiction.
Beverly Fisher Crawford of Wellesley, a member of Trinity Church for nearly 20 years, said she appreciated the time to meditate during the march.
“We need to remember that this is our city,” she said, speaking of the struggles Rich discussed. “We all breathe together.”
New additions to this year’s walk were large printed photographs, portraying images that coincided with the march’s themes, which Rich asked parishioners to display as they walked down the narrow Back Bay sidewalks.
The cleric also strayed from the usual when he stopped his sermon outside the Church of the Covenant to ask gatherers to reflect on a time when they shared bread with someone, or conversely a time that someone shared bread with them.
“I had never experienced anything like that before,” said Amanda Moak, 22, after the walk.