Parishioners gather for Palm Sunday ceremony in Sharpsburg

April 17, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Elizabeth Valentine, center, skips her way down the East Main Street sidewalk Sunday while leading the way for Holy Trinity Lutheran parishioners in Sharpsburg. Keeping pace with Elizabeth are Alaina Monk, left, and Ashley Sell.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — The congregants who marched down Sharpsburg’s Main Street waving palm fronds Sunday morning came from four different Christian traditions, but when they gathered near Town Square, they seemed to speak with one voice:

“Hosanna in the highest!” the group chanted, echoing the words spoken in the Bible by crowds heralding Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem in the precrucifiction scene remembered each year on Palm Sunday, one week before Easter.

The ceremony, which brought together parishioners from Christ Reformed United Church of Christ, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sharpsburg Church of the Brethren and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, has been a unifying tradition in the town since 2008.

“It shows our community coming together across denominational lines ... so it’s a witness, too, for all four churches to come together and show that we can cooperate,” said the Rev. Delancy Catlett of Christ Reformed United Church of Christ.

“I think that’s the spirit in which Christ would have” wanted the observance, Catlett said.

The procession began with members of the Lutheran and Episcopal churches walking toward the square from opposite directions, joined by the other two congregations along the way.

Children from the Lutheran church beat a toy drum, clapped symbols and jingled bells during the procession.

The group stopped at a property near the square that Catlett said is owned by a member of the Episcopal church.

There, pastors from the various churches led the group in prayers, gospel readings, a blessing of the palms and the hymns “All Glory Laud and Honor” and “Ride On! Ride On in Majesty.”

“Then everybody returns to their own church and finishes in their own tradition,” Catlett said.

Next Sunday, the churches will continue the ecumenical spirit with a joint Easter sunrise service at Antietam National Battlefield.

That service will begin at 6:15 a.m. in the observation room at the battlefield visitor center.

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