By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Two Findlay churches will welcome Easter by decorating crosses with colorful mixes of spring flowers on Sunday morning.
The crosses will be placed in front of First Christian and First Presbyterian churches to share with the community.
Beth Reynolds, a member and elder at First Christian Church, said the congregation has been creating a flowering cross as part of its Easter worship celebration for the past seven or so years.
“It’s us in our service that we then take to the world, so it moves from inside to outside,” she said.
This year marks many firsts for the church. The congregation will celebrate Easter for the first time at its new location, 1624 Tiffin Ave., Suite B. The previous church at 620 N. Main St. was sold to Gateway Church last summer.
The church also has a new senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr., who took over his duties in February.
Reynolds said the move has given members an opportunity to think about which practices they’d like to see continue. The flowering cross, she said, was one of them.
“Traditions are wonderful, but here we are in a new space. It’s our first Easter in a new space. We hadn’t really put into a plan how it would manifest itself until recently,” she said.
The old cross frame used in the past had been dismantled for the move, said Reynolds.
“It was just one-sided, and we had it leaning against things so it would be seen from the one side,” she said. “We can’t do that this year (at the new building). So this year it’s going to be a 360-degree cross, and we’re going to put it out front.”
The 3-by-5-foot wooden cross has been draped throughout the week as part of the Easter story, she said.
“And then Easter morning it starts filling up (with flowers). And we do that as a congregation, as we come in, as we worship. We’ve even had kids just kind of drift up in the middle of the sermon and put more flowers in,” she said.
Members bring flowers for the cross, either purchased or from their own gardens.
“And we pick up others. So the flowers come from a lot of different sources, all different kinds. It’s not like a lily cross, it’s everything,” said Reynolds.
“A few years ago, it was a winter that just hung on and there was a lone dandelion out in the churchyard. And it got picked up and put on the cross,” she laughed. “It’s not a weed. It’s a beautiful flower.”
At the end of the 10:30 a.m. service Sunday, the cross will be taken out front and positioned along Tiffin Avenue.
“When we were on North Main Street, we also took it outside and we moved it around.
Sometimes we would put it by the brick sign post. Sometimes we left it up by the pillars,” said Reynolds.
“The nice thing is, the tradition changes as the spirit changes us, and that’s one of the lovely things that this congregation does have is their willingness to move on to find the new.”
At First Presbyterian Church, 2330 S. Main St., the congregation will decorate the large wooden cross out by the road after the 6:30 a.m. sunrise service, said office manager Dana Bourne.
“As long as I’ve been a member here, 36 years, all that time we’ve put up the cross,” she said.
As part of the custom, each worshipper is invited to pick out a fresh flower from an assortment of lilies, daisies, tulips, carnations and other spring blooms, or they may also bring a flower from their garden at home. After sunrise service, worshippers will follow a bagpipe player as they process to the cross. A step ladder is used to reach the very top of the 7-foot cross.
Bourne explained that a bungee cord is placed around the cross, which provides a place to tuck the flowers.
“We saved some of the palms from Palm Sunday and put them on the cross as well,” she said. “We also have some artificial lilies to add. Sometimes there’s not as many flowers, depending on the weather.”
She said worshippers who attend the later 9:30 a.m. festival of Easter worship service go out and add more flowers to the cross.
Everyone seems to appreciate the beauty of the living cross, she added.
“We’ve had people who come to the late service and say, ‘the cross is just beautiful,'” said Bourne.
Both crosses will remain up as long as the flowers continue to look good.
Reynolds said everyone at First Christian Church enjoys the tradition of the flowering cross.
“Each person brings their own thoughts and their own place to the cross,” she said. “It’s just a very special time.”
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