Thousands Celebrate Good Friday at First Niagara Center

March 29, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 11:23 PM EDT

By Allen Leight

March 29, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 11:23 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - An estimated 13,000 people packed the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo to kick-off Easter weekend by celebrating Good Friday, together.

"Here is an historic moment in the region where we are all together as one and no one is competing for anything. We are here for one purpose. To lift up the Lord Jesus Christ," said Pastor Marty Macdonald of City Church in Batavia.

The unprecedented gathering got its start a few years ago when four area churches; The Chapel in Amherst, Zion Dominion in Buffalo, City Church in Batavia and Eastern Hills Wesleyan in Clarence, began to exchange pastors and worship teams.

"We go to their churches, they come to ours, and we thought, there has to be something bigger we can do in the region here and that's when we decided to do Good Friday Together and invite a whole lot of people to come," explained Macdonald.

And thousands came.

People from different backgrounds and denominations, all uniting as one community of believers.

"It is very exciting. We're just amazed at how many people are here. We just keep looking around because we didn't really anticipate it being that big," said Cindy Steffan of Amherst.

"We are Christian, we're family. We're not really strangers, we're Christians," said Dianne McSorely, who made the trip from Pennsylvania.

It was about "becoming one. Just becoming one with no barriers," explained Gina Walker, who attends Zion Dominion.

The service included speakers from seven area churches along with a time of worship and communion.

Organizers also took a collection with all the money going to meet the needs of families in the City of Buffalo in the areas of education, housing, health-care and teen mentoring.