As harmonious hymns echoed through the halls of First United Methodist Church of Lodi on Friday afternoon, parishioners and clergy members came together in observance of Good Friday.
First United Methodist hosted community worship, which brought together pastors from 20 different churches in Lodi to represent the various Protestant denominations honoring the Easter celebration.
All the pews of the church and its balcony were filled with residents united in worship and faith.
The service began with words of welcome by Major Mark Thielenhaus of the Salvation Army and a prelude by organist Angela Sonner of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Manteca.
The opening prayer was led by Pastor Chris Townsend from Emanuel Lutheran Church.
“Bless us on this Good Friday as we gather through the chaos and suffering so we may learn from his example, the way we should go,” Townsend said.
As flecks of color gleamed through stained glass windows adorned on the walls of the church and speckles of color illuminated the room, and parishioners followed the attentively as pastor Bob Mason from English Oaks Adventist Church led in a scripture reading of Corinthians 1:17-30.
“Look at your situation when you were called, brothers and sisters! By ordinary human standards, not many were wise, not many were powerful, not many were from the upper class. But God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong,” Mason said as he quoted the Bible.
Whispers of ‘Amen’ emanated through the crowd as churchgoers looked to the pulpit focusing their attention to the clergy members leading the service.
“We try to figure things on our own, the Biblical purpose of God’s wisdom is inspiring and infinite. God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish,” Pastor Patrice MucCular of the New Covenant Tabernacle said.
As MucCular led the act of witness she reminded people to see beyond the cross and to live life as the righteous, and show love and peace as God’s eternal plan.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved. It is written in scripture: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will reject the intelligence of the intelligent,” MucCular said as she recited human wisdom versus the cross form Corinthians.
In order to highlight the tethered relationship between this world and the hereafter, MucCular pulled examples of technology and social media to illustrate the social dissonance between society and faith as mentioned in human wisdom versus the cross.
She reminded everyone of the redemption of faith, morality and character through God.
Her lecture at the pulpit was followed by a rendition of “Highly Exalted,” which was performed by the Ham Lane Worship Team.
Pastor Dale Hughes of Grace Baptist Woodbridge led the community in a prayer of confession, which was followed by a silent prayer of confession led by Pastor Mark Guerrero of century Assembly Church.
“Hear the good news: You are forgiven,” Pastor George Edd-Bennett of First United Methodist Church said, as he issued an Assurance of Pardon.
Edd-Bennett also sang “Were You There,” as he sang Reverend Amy Miranda of Century Assembly church performed an interpretative dance, which served as a powerful representation of the lyrics of the hymn.
The service concluded with a blessing led by Vicar Frances Le Bas of St. Paul Lutheran Church.
For many of the Protestant and Catholic faith, Good Friday is observed during the Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday.
Many churches in Lodi and the surrounding area will hold Saturday vigil and Easter Sunday services this weekend.