More than 100 locals flocked together with hands and voices raised to celebrate Good Friday. The Hollister Concert at Guerra Cellars hills resounded with a different type of joyful singing. The venue typically hosts popular cover bands, but this night was different.
Church members and the San Benito County community celebrated their like-minded faith and love for Jesus Christ. It was a joyous celebration as families and friends filled the hillside with smiles, love and laughter.
Music Pastor Seth Howell from Abundant Life Church opened with a prayer and led the audience in praise and worship songs. With hands lifted high, the collective voices sang as one.
Pastor Matt Kirkland from South Valley Community Church was the MC. He introduced some guest speaking Pastors from varying local churches, who gave sermons about the meaning of Good Friday and the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross for all.
Some participants thought this was a first-time event. However, it was started by Father Rudy Ruiz of Saint Benedict-Sacred Heart Church in Hollister. In 2004 he dubbed the celebration “Hollister’s Holy-Stir.”
“In 2004 I saw the community struggling with sadness and division, so I took action. I sent a letter to several churches in the county asking them to come together as a united front to celebrate their love and faith in Jesus Christ. I also wanted to invite the community, because I truly believe there is power in numbers.”
It was at the first celebration in 2004 that Ruiz “admired a flag being waved in sync with the praise music. I felt as though the flag waver was stirring the holy spirit.”
He said, “Hey that sounds like Hollister! That’s it, that’s what we are having, a Holy-Stir in Hollister!”
In addition to Ruiz the event’s original organizers included Reverend Ardyss Golden (Hollister United Methodist Church), Reverend Amy Zuniga (Saint Lukes), Reverend Bob Rufener (Abundant Life FourSquare Church), Reverend Jonathan Hughes (First Presbyterian Church) and Reverend Matthew Trasek (Trinity Lutheran Church).
The new group of pastors were also aiming for unity at 2022’s Good Friday celebration. The new group of Pastors all agreed with Pastor Matt who said “even though each church has a different style, our core beliefs are the same and stronger than the differences.” And they long to share camaraderie with San Benito County.
A new group of Holy-Stir organizers are the previously mentioned Kirkland, Pastor Anthony Moheka (Oasis Church), Pastor D’Andre Guirand (Gateway City Church), Pastor Duane Cashion (Living Hope Bible Church), Pastor Kevin Ratliff (Abundant Life Church), Pastor Mike Hogg (Christ Fellowship Church) and Music Pastor Seth Howell (Abundant Life Church).
Kirkland said he “longs for solidarity and peace to replace the heaviness that has been surrounding the county for quite some time.”
Ratliff said he sees the same anxiety and strongly feels that “showing unity as one under Jesus Christ is a wonderful opportunity for the community to witness.” He added that “my hope is the holy spirit will be stirred at the event and that it will carry out into the community.”
During the Good Friday celebration two members of the community, Brigette Blair and Mark Klassen shared personal testimonies and their words brought tears to some in attendance.
After the celebration ended, Debbie Fornari, a local resident of Hollister said, “It was wonderful to see Hollister believers praise and celebrate Good Friday to encourage one another.”
As Ed Bless, a community member of Hollister climbed the stairs after the event was over he said, “There are so many different perspectives that tend to separate us from each other, but Jesus’ equality of love for the lost is everyone’s mainstay no matter how we differ.”
The church Pastors plan to host it annually.
D’Andre had a core lesson for a takeaway: “May God grant us unity like never before, look up 1 Corinthians 12:12. And write that.” he said. See the referenced scripture below:
1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV version
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.