Jesus hitches a lift on a Shetland pony for Palm Sunday procession in Chorley

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A Shetland pony nobly stepped in to play a vital role accompanying Jesus for a Palm Sunday procession in Chorley this weekend.

In the Bible, Jesus famously rode a donkey into Jerusalem as onlookers waved palm leaves to welcome him to the city.

However, despite an appeal, the Chorley United Reformed Church could not find a donkey to walk alongside Jesus, who was played by Bob Hodson, to re-enact the procession.

In an appeal last month, Rev Martin Whitten said the church was struggling to find a donkey to take the traditional leading role in the procession.

He said: “It seems that donkeys are not as popular as they once were.”

In spite of widely publicised appeals, no donkeys could be found – but instead the church was offered a Shetland pony named Rocky.

Mr Whiffen was delighted.

“I don’t think Jesus particularly liked donkeys,” he said.

“He chose to ride a donkey as a sign that he came in peace and humility.

“I think a Shetland pony gives the same message and Rocky the pony loves children.”

Palm Sunday, April 9, marks a week before Jesus’ Resurrection after he is crucified on a cross at the Christian festival, Easter.

In the Eastern tradition of the time a donkey was symbolic of an animal of people while the horse represented an animal of war.

While a war-waging king would have ridden a horse Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem would have symbolised his entry as the Prince of Peace.

The procession of about 150 people took place at Chorley United Reformed Church in Hollinshead Steet and was shared by both the 9.30am Café Church and 11am morning services.

Mr Whiffen said: “Everyone really enjoyed this event that brought the Palm Sunday story to life in an appropriate and relevant way.

“We are very grateful for the help and support offered by Michelle Mercy, the owner of Rocky and Barlows Trailers who kindly lent a trailer to transport Rocky to church.”

Chorley URC was founded in 1792 and is now one of the largest United Reformed Churches in the north-west.