Although April’s showers may be a little early, that doesn’t mean that the cloudy weather will dampen the spirits of Whitewater’s religious residents on the eve of Holy Week. Whitewater is home to a number of churches and faith communities that are looking forward to celebrating one of the most important weeks of the year for them. One church in particular has something special in store for its congregation.
First United Methodist Church here in Whitewater is a part of the Whitewater Area Regional Ministries that includes other churches located in nearby towns such as Richmond and LaGrange. Obviously with the past year, First Methodist like all churches and communities has adjusted how they go about regular activities. The nearly 200-year-old church has been giving virtual sermons and services through use of YouTube and live streaming. But this Palm Sunday on March 28th will be the first time in a year that the members and supporters of the church will have a chance to be a part of church activities in person together. The Sunday will begin as many have over the last year with a virtual service, but added in is something special for the start of Holy Week.
“At noon on Sunday, we are having a safe no-contact Palm Processional,” said Pastor Susan Bresser described how First Methodist are creating a community experience while still adhering to safety and health guidelines.
The processional will begin at the churches parking lot and follow a short route near Center and Franklin Street. The precession gives church community members an opportunity to have a safe but still jointly based experience together for the first time in a year. Pastor Bresser mentions that a large contributing factor to the idea and execution of the procession was in support of the many elderly members of the church who reside in Fairhaven Senior Services home here in Whitewater.
“Lately folks are able to leave Fairhaven but they have to stay in their car… so this is an opportunity if those from Fairhaven want to take part in this Palm processional, were hoping to get palms to Fairhaven so they don’t even have to roll down their window.” said Pastor Bresser on the likens of the procession to a small parade for people to partake in together after mainly having just virtual and streamed services for so long.
As mentioned by Pastor Bresser, part of the procession will include handouts of celebratory palms at the church parking lot at the start of the procession. A helper along the way with the church not just with this upcoming event but through all of last year, has been UW- Whitewater Associate Professor John Frye.
“There weren’t many challenges in setting this up,” Says Frye, “We worked together as a team to develop a plan to pass out palms in the church parking lot and then develop a route that participants would drive.”
Being a member of the church, Frye has aided them over the past year with their virtual services and streams, as well as with this latest upcoming procession. As well during this Holy Week, First Methodist will be holding live streamed services on Thursday and Good Friday. This will all lead up to the first in- person service on Easter Sunday held in the parking lot of the church.
You can visit First United Methodist Churches website or YouTube page if you are interested in additional information or virtual services.