Baskets, blankets, Starbucks: Churches find new ways to reach out during Holy Week

Baskets, blankets, Starbucks: Churches find new ways to reach out during Holy Week

IN THE 899 CHURCHES of Holston Conference, members are preparing for packed houses on Easter Sunday morning. They're planning seder meals, Maundy Thursday services, Tenebrae Good Friday services and Easter sunrise services.

But some are also carrying out special projects beyond even their community Easter egg hunts.

At Meadowview United Methodist Church in Abingdon District, children and youth purchased gifts for and then prepared 25 Easter baskets for people served by Ecumenical Faith in Action.

At Hillcrest UMC in Knoxville District, members gave more than $1,000 to purchase blankets instead of Easter lillies. The blankets, which are now covering the altar, will be blessed on Easter Sunday before being given to police officers -- who will in turn give the blankets to sick and traumatized children.

At St. John UMC in Chattanooga District, congregants joined in a "Pay It Backward" Lenten project, in which they are encouraged to pay a debt for someone behind them in line ("just like Jesus did for us"). A web page and Facebook page testify to the impact St. John is making on the community:

"Today, someone in the car in line in front of me at Starbucks paid for my drink and passed along your 'pay it forward' card," one Facebooker announced. "Thank you so much! I immediately did the same for the person in line behind me."

At Ebenezer UMC in Knoxville District, worshipers were invited to chose a Lenten service project with suggestions listed in the bulletin for several weeks.

On Palm Sunday, members of St. Paul UMC and the Rev. Stephen Burkhart of Johnson City District traveled to New York City to lead and participate in a newly formed church, the "Unbroken Chain." The offerings for this week's Thursday and Friday services at St. Paul are designated for "Mason's Mission," the brainchild of five-year-old Mason Wilson who wants to help students who can't afford to bring snacks to school.

On Holy Thursday evening, St. Luke UMC in Knoxville District will produce a reeactment of the Last Supper on the church lawn. People who are mobility challenged will be encouraged to watch from their cars, where they can also conveniently receive Holy Communion.

Count heads on Easter Sunday!

Holston churches are encouraged to e-mail The Call with total Easter Sunday worship attendances for the annual celebratory list.

The totals should include all Sunday services, including sunrise service. They should not include counts for Maundy Thursday services, Good Friday services, or Easter egg hunts.

Pastors or lay leaders should submit the totals, to prevent conflicting reports. Send to by Friday, April 29, with "Easter attendance" in the subject head. Please include your church name and district.

Easter Sunday photos are also most welcome. Please send .JPG attachments only by email to

See also:

  • "Final list: Churches report Easter Sunday worship attendances for 2010" (The Call, 4/12/10)