By Merv-Ann Thompson
The symbolic stability and elegance of the Arecaceae plant, or the palm tree has its roots in biblical reference, especially at this commemorative time of Easter.
In Matthew 21:6-11, as Jesus Christ entered into the Holy City of Jerusalem, an excited crowd gathered, laying palm, olive, and other branches before him as he travelled on a donkey. In light of this, the Wesleyan Holiness Church in Newcastle hosted its first ever Palm Parade on Sunday, March 29th 2015.
The inaugural Palm Parade began outside the Vance W Amory International Airport and proceeded up through Shaws Road to the Housing Development there, and back to the church at the bottom of Shaws Road, Newcastle. Enthusiastic church members, even children as young as three years old, participated in the march along with adults of all ages. Nobody was excluded as those who were not able to walk drove along in the bus behind the march. As the march proceeded throughout the village, many residents and onlookers came out of their homes and waved.
Pas. Daniel said that he was particularly pleased by the general public’s response, and the opportunity to connect with people in the surrounding areas and speak to them about God.
Pas. Daniel explained that the reason behind the Parade was three fold: firstly, to raise awareness to the general public of the fact that it was Palm Sunday; to try to re-enact, in some way, what occurred on the first Palm Sunday; and to encourage the public to worship and remember Jesus for what he has done for us around Easter.
The march, he explained, is a part of the church’s strategy to continue connecting with the un-churched in the community by bringing the gospel to them.
“People tend to cast aspersions on the un-churched or de-churched but they are people who Christ died for, just like me and you, and he cares about them equally as much. I am one who believes that the church’s greatest potential for growth and development lies outside the walls of the church, as there is so much untapped potential waiting to be harvested. This is why we must be strategic in finding multiple opportunities to connect with these persons and to remind them that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
At the end of the march, the church commenced its monthly evangelistic casual Sunday which is always the last Sunday of the month. On this particular Sunday, regular “church clothes” are not worn so that anyone without the usual church attire can feel welcomed.
“We began these services almost three years ago, and we realise that we always get visitors coming on these Sundays so we have continued them. In fact, a member of our board today, came on a casual Sunday because they had no church clothes. Now becoming a member of the board, they can attest to how effective it has been,” Pas. Daniel said in a brief discussion.
Pastor Daniel ended by encouraging everyone who does not have a church home to attend the Wesleyan Holiness Church in Newcastle since it is “the homey church…where everyone finds a home.”
The Easter Celebrations continue with “Forever He is Glorified,” a musical production at the church on Easter Sunday (Apr. 5) at 6:30pm.