illuminated cross Rainow

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undefinedBefore the joy of Easter is celebrated each year, Christians traditionally reflect on Christ's Passion - including His cleansing of the temple, His agony in the garden, and His trial and execution. Good Friday is the solemn commemoration of Christ's death on the cross. Each year for the past 40 years (*) it has been marked with the raising of a 24-foot high illuminated cross (pictured) on Kerridge Hill by Rainow near Macclesfield.

This local tradition dates back to 1973 when the then Archbishop of York, Donald Coggan, issued his great project of mission and public witness - ‘Call to the North’.

Mabel Lomas, writing in the Rainow with Saltersford and Forest parish magazine, remembered the Good Friday of 1973 vividly – 200 pilgrims from the parishes of Rainow, Bollington and Pott Shrigley combined together in a torchlight procession to the ridge of Kerridge Hill where at 9.45 pm the cross made by members of the youth club was lit up until 1am. The then Vicar of Bollington, the Revd Peter Hunt, read the account of the crucifixion and prayers were said and hymns were sung.

Since 1973 the tradition of lighting the cross has been maintained by the people of Rainow, and this year – despite freezing temperatures – was no exception.

Parishioner Colin Warrington took the photograph above. He is the cousin of William Warrington. Each year they and two other men, Michael Greenall and Peter Nixon, climb the hill and erect and light up the cross.

William has been involved in the project for about 28 years. Colin’s been involved for the whole 40 years. “Good Friday this year was a beautifully clear night and the cross could be seen for miles around,” said William. 

Over the years the Good Friday cross shining across the valley has become a very well-known symbol of hope and was mentioned on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour a few years ago.

In recent times a half hour service has been held in the church on Good Friday, then at 9pm parishioners gather in the churchyard. A signal is sent from the churchyard by walkie-talkie to the men who have erected the cross on the hill. Then the lights on the cross, powered by a mobile generator, are turned on.

Parishioners get a good view of the illuminated cross as they sing ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’. The lights are kept on until late into the night.

William Warrington added:  “After the service the congregation share fellowship with tea and hot cross buns.  We always hope that some kind soul will bring hot cross buns up to us on Kerridge.”

The Ven Ian Bishop, Archdeacon of Macclesfield (pictured, bottom) said: “I think it's terrific that the parish of Rainow has kept this tradition alive for 40 years. It’s a fantastic sight as the cross shines the light of the hope of the Gospel across the valley.”

(*) There was one year when the location of the cross had to be switched from the hill to the churchyard – because of worries about spreading infection during the epidemic of Foot and Mouth Disease in the open countryside.

Below - the men who erect and illuminate the cross celebrate 40 years of the tradition with a special cake. Colin Warrington (seated) and behind him (L to R) William Warrington, Michael Greenall and Peter Nixon