Stations of a City

Oct 26, 2022 | Practicing the Way

It all started with a Lenten study. In 2015, I was serving as a curate at the Cathedral of St. James, in South Bend, Indiana. Nicole Lambelet, then a parishioner (now a priest serving in the Diocese of Atlanta), came to me about the possibility of our jointly offering a Lenten Study on racism, and, in particular, how racism affected us as members of a downtown congregation. Entitled, “Not “A Thing Afar Off”: Race Relations Here and Now,” the study aimed at exploring the idea “that issues of race are close up and personal, if only we would take a closer look at ourselves.” The study was designed to end on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, with a walking meditation around the downtown area.

I based that meditation on the Stations of the Cross, taking participants on a loop around sites related to the city’s racial history and present, all within walking distance from the Cathedral. The introduction to the meditation describes the rite in this way:

Our service today combines the Stations of the Cross with our baptismal promise to seek and serve Christ in every human being, focusing meditatively on interactions between black and white residents of South Bend, IN. In these stations, it is important not to identify any given figure too closely with Jesus. We are all made in the image of God, and it can be as important to ask what has happened to justice and mercy in each scene as it is to ask “who is Jesus here?”

The purpose, then of these stations is to engage the participant in a comparison between the events of Jesus’ passion and our own treatment of each other across racial lines.

The initial booklet for the stations was primarily text-based, with only one photo. The Service would begin on the front steps of the Cathedral with the usual opening devotions for “The Way of the Cross” as found in the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services.  Each station would be at a different location, beginning with the Leader saying, “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,” and the participants responding, “Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” A brief historical account would follow. Next would be the versicle and response for that station from “The Way of the Cross,” followed by a collect appropriate to the historical account. Participants would sing the Trisagion as they started walking to the next station.


Participation was not large in either of the two years we offered this. Because our initial thought had been to invite the wider diocese, we purposely scheduled the Stations to follow the Diocesan Chrism Mass to be held in the morning of the Saturday before Palm Sunday. A luncheon would follow the Chrism Mass, and then we would take off on our walking meditation. What we did not count on were the time constraints for clergy and lay leaders so close to Holy Week, not to mention the uninviting weather of late March in Northern Indiana.

Nevertheless, for those who did participate, the experience was meaningful. People who participate the first year brought their family members along the second year. By the third year, I was no longer serving on the Cathedral Staff, so the project was left on the proverbial shelf. A few years later, when Stephen Slaubaugh, the Cathedral’s new education director, was hosting conversations about race, some participants mentioned the stations. He approached me about offering them again in Lent of 2020.

That, however, turned out to be Lent of 2020—in the midst of the pandemic. I proposed a revision of the meditation that could be engaged online. Because an online version would constitute both a broadcast and significantly more visual imagery, this revision involved greater care with copyright. The current version is the result of that revision.


The primary collaborator for this project was “The Way of the Cross” from the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services. The history which informed the initial version was cobbled together from a variety of mostly online sources. Most valuable among these was an online “Landmark Tour” presented by the Indiana University South Bend’s Civil Rights Heritage Center. “African American Landmark Tour.” Other sources included Buford F. Gordon’s 2009 book, The Negro in South Bend: A Social Study and a variety of newspaper articles.

For the online version, I sought out Stations of the Cross in a variety of media. For copyright reasons, I particularly sought out versions available within the Public Domain or under Creative Commons license.  In a small number of cases I requested permission to reproduce the work. I was pleasantly surprised at the positive responses I received. No money was spent on licensing.

Resources consulted for this project:

“The Way of the Cross.” Book of Occasional Sercices: 2003. New York: Church Publishing, 2004. 56 – 73.

American Civil Liberties Union. “Police Brutality” and “Racial Profiling” Online Resource Accessed at Accessed in March, 2015. “Even Misdemeanor Charges Can Have Serious Consequences.” 2014. Online Resource Accessed at Accessed in March, 2015.

Garner, George.  “Throwback Thursday: History Is About People.” The South Bend Voice. Online Resource. Accessed in March, 2015.

Gordon, Buford F. The Negro in South Bend: A Social Study. South Bend, IN: Wolfson Press, 2009.

Hope Ministries, South Bend. Online Resource at Accessed in March, 2015.

IUSB Civil Rights Heritage Center. “African American Landmark Tour.” South Bend, IN, 2015. Online Resource available at accessed in March, 2015.

St. Margaret’s House. Online Resource at Accessed in March, 2015.

Sheckler, Christian. “South Bend mayor shakes up troubled housing authority.” South Bend Tribune, February 11, 2015. Online Resource at Accessed in March, 2015.

Smith, Walter. “Jim Crow’s Playmates: Branch Rickey and the Color Line.” American Pasttimes: The Very Best of Red Smith. Library of America, 2013: 49-51.

South Bend Alumni Association. “Central High School.” Online Resource at South Bend, IN, 2015. Online Resource accessed in March, 2015.

The South Bend fugitive slave case : involving the right to a writ of habeas corpus. New York : For sale at the Anti-slavery Office, 1851.

U.S. Senate. “Schuyler Colfax, 17th Vice President (1869-1873).” Online Resource at Accessed in March, 2015.

White, Joseph. Worthy of the Gospel of Christ: A History of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Fort Wayne: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2007. 285.

The Main Event

The 2016 version of the event included this invitation on the Cathedral’s Facebook page:

This service combines the traditional Stations of the Cross with our baptismal promise to seek and serve Christ in every human being, focusing meditatively on interactions between black and white residents of South Bend, Indiana. As we walk from site to site in the downtown and near west side neighborhoods, participants are asked to question what has happened to justice and mercy in each scene.

The slides for the online version are here [link to slides]

Ideas for Adaptation

Adaptation of this idea to another context could be as straightforward as looking up examples from a different location. Clearly that is more challenging if the goal is to keep the historical sites within walking distance of one another. In that regard, an urban location is more likely to involve a tight set of sites. With the online version, adaptation might involve a regional approach, with perhaps more focus on the involvement of the Episcopal Church in the incidents described. In that way, this meditation could be a vehicle for Truth, Reckoning and Reconciliation efforts.

Rev. Cn. Terri L. Bays

Missioner for Transitions and Formation
Diocese of Northern Indiana

Terri Bays is the Missioner for Transitions and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, a position which includes serving as staff liaison to the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Commission. Terri has served as a priest at the Cathedral of St. James and at the Church of the Holy Trinity, both in South Bend, Indiana.

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