A religious cross created by Sunderland College students will be carried to Tunstall Hill on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
A group of students from the college will walk from Sunderland Minster to the hill with the Cross of Liberation to mark the 50th Tunstall Hill procession.
This annual tradition, which began in 1965, is held every Good Friday and this year will be led by Reverend Chris Howson, of Sunderland Minster.
The Cross of Liberation was designed and made in 2011 by Sunderland College students, in collaboration with local artist Maria Makepeace, and represents the different forms of oppression across the world.
It was made by the joinery students at Hylton Campus, and was painted by Maria after she met with students to discuss which groups they felt were oppressed and how they should be symbolised on the cross.
Reverend Howson said: “The Cross of Liberation is a wonderful and contemporary addition to the traditional Good Friday service. I would like to thank the good folk of the college for letting us use this magnificent piece of art as part of our worship.”
College chaplain Ros Jackson will be taking part in the procession alongside the students and other worshippers. She said: “We feel very privileged to take part in this traditional procession with the Cross of Liberation and to commemorate the crucifixion. The cross was crafted by our students to represent oppression within modern society, and we have revisited this topic with our current students. We feel it is essential to educate and engage with our students on this important subject, in order to promote equality and diversity within the college.”
Ros will also carry images, created by current students which reflect who they feel are oppressed in 2015, as part of the commemorations.
Darren Keogh, aged 36, is studying an Access to Higher Education course at Sunderland College and is taking part in the procession. He said: “As part of tutorial my access group looked at oppression and we reflected back upon our own experiences. As a retired soldier with 16 years’ service, I found that veterans, especially those with injuries, were susceptible to being forgotten and neglected by society. Often it is assumed that the forces will look after them and that they aren’t ‘our problem’ – as a society we are all responsible for those who serve and protect us.”
Student Barbara Carling, aged 37, who is studying an Access to Higher Education course in Educational Studies, will also be attending the event with her five-year-old daughter Amy. She said: “I want her to know that there is more to Easter than just chocolate! We are looking forward to it.”
The students will meet at Sunderland Minster at 8am for a Communion Service before carrying the Cross of Liberation to Tunstall Hill, where Reverend Howson will deliver an Easter Service at 10am.