Many of you in and around Wellington will have noticed the electrically-lit cross atop the city’s Mount Victoria, which is switched on for Easter in early April. The cross will shine out above the capital city as a reminder to all that the crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent resurrection from the grave, are the central events of our Christian faith.
The tradition of having a cross on the top of Mount Victoria goes back to the dark days of war in the 1940s. In those early days the famous Wellington radio host, Aunt Daisy, was instrumental in getting the Easter Sunday Sonrise services going.
Later a cross was carried to the top of Mount Victoria to celebrate the Easter festival by enthusiastic folk from Paraparaumu. They and others organized the ecumenical Sonrise service for some years and in 1990 invited the Council of Wellington Churches (CWC) to arrange it. The CWC decided to mount a lighted cross on the radio mast on Mount Victoria, to ensure its presence for that service every Easter. This was done in collaboration with Wellington City Council, the then-Evening Post and a generous local electricity company. The cross has now become a permanent fixture on the radio mast and is also switched on at Christmas.
The maintenance and updating of the cross is enabled by the generous donations of churches and individuals in greater Wellington and the continuing hard work of some members of CWC and city engineers.
This year the Sonrise service was led by the Salvation Army. The name “Sonrise” is a pun. During the service those present witness the sunrise over Wellington as the world begins Easter Sunday in New Zealand! It is also the day on which God’s only son Jesus arose from the grave.
The CWC dates all the way back to 1942 and is the official ecumenical body in Wellington City. It is a representative group of ministers and laypeople who meet together several times a year. The vision of this group is to maintain and strengthen the Christian faith through sharing information about church-based community events and celebrations, and also to facilitate the continuance of other city-observed Christian events such as Carols in Parliament, the Capital Prayer Breakfast and the newly inaugurated Council event “Christmas on Lambton Quay.” CWC also assists with the organization of state religious services and the Citizens’ Wreath Laying Service at the Cenotaph on ANZAC Day.
Story: Gordon Copeland, CWC