Palms posted on doors unite Methodists at the start of Holy WeekCOVID-19 Missions and Outreach
A simple declarative act by United Methodists throughout Florida on Palm Sunday proved there is a way to find community in the forced isolation wrought by COVID-19.
While they couldn’t worship together in person due to medical guidelines about the virus, people still found a way to stay united. Many hung palm branches outside on their homes or waved them on their streets and yards.
It was a visible statement that we’re in this together, and as United Methodists, we will find a way to commemorate the start of Holy Week.
“I definitely felt it and saw,” South East District Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Weems said. “I think the palm branches allowed the pastors to send a message that people could do something.
"It’s one thing to tell people to join us for our live-stream service, but it’s another actually be able to participate. Being able to participate was significant.”
|Front door decorated with palm branches in Melbourne, FL.|
Weems saw the palm branch idea on the First Church Melbourne Facebook page, and other sites also had the information as well.
At Avondale UMC in Jacksonville, members were urged to hang the palms on their doors and take a picture. The photos were sent to Music Director Ted Munn, who turned them into a video that played over the church website during the Palm Sunday streamed service.
“It created a virtual parade of the palms,” Munn said. “It was a way of doing things separately, but still being together. I think it created a sense of liberty for everyone.”
Avondale Senior Pastor Clare Chance said the idea came together quickly in the days leading to Palm Sunday after Munn mentioned he first saw the idea on the Deacon’s Bench website. The more she and the staff talked about the idea, the more convinced everyone became that it would be a unifying and powerful gesture.
“We had a lot of different people participate,” she said. “Some were regular members, and some are with us online. We wanted to show that we are palm people. We were trying to make the best of this situation.
“I don’t believe in any way that God caused this pandemic, but I do believe God can use it as an opportunity to reach people in a different way.”
The church had people join in from as far away as North Carolina.
Weems said she felt the impact in the afternoon while walking through her Miami neighborhood with her daughter. They saw multiple homes adorned with palm branches, and it brought home the larger meaning of Holy Week to Christians.
“A lot of people celebrate Easter, but there’s the Easter bunny and all that goes with that,” she said. “Palm Sunday, I believe, is really for those tuned in to the entirety of Holy Week and are seeking a larger message.
"The branches became a point of solidarity for everyone. I think it was something very significant for everyone to be able to participate.”
-- Joe Henderson is News Content Editor for FLUMC.org
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