York church celebrates Palm Sunday with fair-trade palm fronds

jzou@heraldonline.comApril 13, 2014 

— Palm fronds – a Christian symbol of the Easter season –waved in the hands of Allison Creek Presbyterian Church members Sunday morning in York.

“It helps us in a symbolic, physical way to connect to Jesus’ last days,” said the Rev. Sam McGregor of the palm procession. “Today, our worship is going to be unique.”

Congregation members lined up outside the church to receive a fair trade palm frond. A trumpet played as members walked into the white building, waving their fronds, filing into wooden pews and singing “Hosanna” – a word used to praise God.

Palm Sunday celebrates the biblical story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The palm procession is meant to emulate the palm branches the people of Jerusalem laid down before him to venerate him.

“I do like the symbolism,” said church elder and clerk Lois Pederson of Lake Wylie. “This is a very moving week.”

The holiday falls a week before Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. On Sunday, the congregation bypassed a traditional sermon for a choir-based service filled with music.

The palm procession has been an annual event at the church for at least 13 years, said McGregor, and the church opted to purchase “socially conscious” palm fronds to ensure that agricultural workers who picked the plant were paid a fair wage.

After a hymn, church members got up from their seats and walked through the room to shake hands with each other, saying, “Peace be with you.”

Small children gathered at the base of the church stage to watch a short video portraying a biblical passage where Christ’s disciples miraculously catch a large amount of fish with his help after being unable to catch any the night before.

The children were then asked if they could “fish” anything out of a wooden basket held by a church member. Each pulled out a baggie of goldfish crackers. The profile of a fish is commonly used as a Christian symbol.

McGregor said Sunday’s service was a reflection of both the triumphs and solemnity of the holiday season. The service was followed by a picnic and an Easter egg hunt.

For church member Kara White, the season represents renewal, hope and rebirth. “Easter time is a new beginning,” said White, of York. “Everything’s been wiped clean.”

White said she doesn’t look at the Easter season as all “doom and gloom,” but rather a testament of her faith and that anything is possible.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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