For many Christians, Good Friday represents tremendous spiritual and emotional darkness.

Columbus’ Sandy Boyd has felt the weight of that. A few years ago, during the annual Community Good Friday Service at The Commons, she carried a symbolic crown of thorns to a front table holding elements signifying Jesus’ suffering during Holy Week.

“I remember I almost was in tears,” said Boyd, a devout believer among planners of this year’s service slated at noon Friday and again at The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus. “It was very emotional for me.

“If you’re a believer, Good Friday is the most important event in history, next to the Resurrection.”

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The yearly, one-hour gathering has attracted 250 to 400 people from 25 or more area churches — and some with no church affiliation — in recent years. The 24-church Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches coordinates the event to highlight the most somber day on the Christian calendar, marking the biblical story of Jesus’ suffering and death on behalf of his followers.

The theme of this year’s local service is “The Places of the Passion,” including Golgotha, where Christ was crucified, to the tomb where he was buried.

Five different local ministers — including Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian and others — will each share a three- to four-minute reflection of the meaning of five different places of Jesus’ agony. Boyd, a strong Lutheran, guarantees she will be among the most eager listeners.

“I have only one little brain,” Boyd said. “When I read Scripture, I just can’t see it all, can’t hear it all, can’t understand it all. So, I love to hear others’ perspective. That is very valuable to me.”

Coordinator the Rev. Robert Vester mentioned that he, too, learns from fellow clergy’s thoughts. In fact, in the past couple of years of the Good Friday services, he has made notes of others’ points so that he might develop them into his own perspective and presentation later in the year at other services.

Vester said that the focus certainly is upon Jesus’ sacrifice but also on Christians’ unity.

“It’s the one time of the year we can come together to express our common faith and our common witness,” Vester said. “Part of why this works is that we understand as believers that the cross unites us. It’s a great testimony of what the church at large should be.”

Worship leader Kevin Jackson pointed out that the service’s music also will center on the cross with both more traditional and contemporary tunes, including “There Is Power in the Blood,” “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” and “Lead Me to the Cross.”

At the close of Friday’s service, a single candle that will burn throughout the gathering will be extinguished, symbolic of the end of Jesus’ earthly life — and the darkness that Scripture said covered the land for a three-hour period while Jesus was executed.

“In our world,” Jackson said, “there’s a lot of darkness these days. This service is proof that Christianity doesn’t gloss over that fact. But it also says there still is hope.”

Darkness and light

What: Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches’ Community Good Friday service

When: Noon to 1 p.m. Friday

Where: Upstairs at The Commons, 300 Washington St., Coloumbus

Open to: Anyone

Information: 812-372-9421

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.