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Church to hold Jesus funeral event on Good Friday

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 20, 2015

A Sterling Heights church is hoping to pay its respects to Jesus in a different way on a major Christian holy day.

Hope Crossing church will hold a funeral service for Jesus on April 3, which is Good Friday, the day when Christians remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

The Rev. T.J. Witherell, emerging generations pastor at Hope Crossing, said the church has never done this type of event before, though something similar was held at a church in West Branch. Witherell said he hopes that the unconventional setting will interest newcomers.

“Really, what we’re looking to reach is unconnected people — people who don’t have a church home, who are curious about what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s really about doing something that is different than the traditional Good Friday service.”

Witherell explained that the funeral service will be an occasion to remember Jesus’ life and ministry as depicted in the Gospels and the New Testament. Witherell said the church is working with Wm. Sullivan & Son Funeral Directors to provide the setting with a casket, a hearse and more. Organizers invite guests to, instead of giving flowers, “live as Jesus did” and donate to those in need.

According to the funeral home’s advanced planning consultant, Jim Stark, their role is to provide services as they would for any other funeral.

“My understanding from the church is that their hope is to make this relevant to today’s world, of treating his death as similar to someone else’s and trying to make a different connection,” Stark said.

According to Witherell, actors portraying some of Jesus’ friends and family will describe their stories, experiences and memories of him at the event. Singing, Scriptures and a short message will round out the evening.

“At 8 o’clock, everyone will follow the casket out,” Witherell said.

The funeral service will be followed the next day by an Easter egg hunt at 11 a.m. April 4 for children in grades five and below. The church will celebrate Easter at 11 a.m. April 5.

Witherell said the funeral’s mood will be somber in the beginning, but he said the congregation will be invited back to the church to celebrate Easter Sunday and the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

“Obviously, we know the end of the story,” he said.

Hope Crossing, 37845 Dodge Park Road in Sterling Heights, will hold a funeral service for Jesus at 7 p.m. April 3. Guests may wear casual attire, and they will be invited to dinner after the event. Learn more about the church by visiting or by calling (586) 979-3138.

Learn more about Wm. Sullivan & Son Funeral Directors in Utica by visiting www.sullivanfuneraldirectors. com or by calling (586) 731-2411.