Finsbury Park churches come together for Palm Sunday procession – complete with donkey

William the donkey at the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday outside of Finsbury Park. Picture: Si

William the donkey at the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday outside of Finsbury Park. Picture: Siorna Ashby - Credit: Archant

A sunny Palm Sunday saw a hundred people congregate outside of the Finsbury Park gates having followed a donkey called William down Seven Sisters Road.

William the donkey at the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday outside of Finsbury Park. Picture: Si

William the donkey at the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday outside of Finsbury Park. Picture: Siorna Ashby - Credit: Archant

This was the annual ecumenical Palm Sunday procession, and members of five churches of different denominations gathered by the gates for a moving beginning to one of the most important weeks of the Christian year.

After a short service at the gates, William plodded back to St Thomas More church in Henry Street, while attendees dispersed back to their respective churches.

The five taking part were St Thomas More, St Olave’s, Woodbury Down, St John the Evangelist, Brownswood Park, the United Reform Church and Finsbury Park Methodist Church.

For The Rev’d Alice Whalley, who leads St John the Evangelist church in Brownswood Park added: “It was the first one I’ve done since I’ve been in the parish. It was so exciting for me to see it all.

William the donkey at the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday outside of Finsbury Park. Picture: Si

William the donkey at the Blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday outside of Finsbury Park. Picture: Siorna Ashby - Credit: Archant


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“It was a really great gathering outside the park in the sunshine. Traffic beeped at us even as we were going down Seven Sisters Road.

Rev’d Whalley added it was important for the churches to be working together and able to be amongst the Finsbury Park community on a busy Sunday.

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She said: “It’s great to do something out and about. Across the country fewer people are going to church on a Sunday, but so many people still know the story of Jesuds riding into Jerusalem. There’s something so accessible about that.”

The procession also saw musicians

Father Clive Lee – priest at St Thomas More Roman Catholic church – added: “I’ve been organising this for a decade or so, and of cours it was wonderful.”

Historically, the march is only one of the joint initiative between the churches which encompass the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist and URC traditions of Christianity – the five churches also untertake joint pilgrimages each year.

On their way back from the park, children took turns to ride William the donkey, just as the bible suggests Jesus Christ did a week before his execution and supposed resurrection.

William the donkey comes from Bury St Edmunds, and – aged 18 – has been on the march for each of its 13 years.

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