by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
Sunday, April 5, was Palm Sunday, celebrated by Christians as the day Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem in the days before his crucifixion. It’s the start of Holy Week, as crowds gathered and laid palm branches for Jesus as a sign of respect and adulation.
The coronavirus pandemic forced churches not to have parishioners physically inside the church, but many churches held services that were viewed online.
Reverend Glenn Grayson Sr., pastor of Wesley Center AME Zion Church in the Hill District, thought of an additional plan. “I see Grab and Go food, Grab and Go (other non-perishable items)…why can’t we do Grab and Go Communion and Palms?”
And that’s exactly what Rev. Grayson facilitated this past Sunday. Church parishioners, who were able, drove to the church, and while safely in their cars, were met by Rev. Grayson (with a mask on), who gave out communion and palms.
“We can no longer have church as usual but we had to think outside the box,” Rev. Grayson told the Courier’s J.L. Martello in the exclusive interview, April 5. “…First Sunday is very historic for most people, and so communion is very important because it carries in the minds of His coming and dying, and palms, people put in their homes and ask God to cover their homes throughout the year. We really need God to cover our homes throughout the year now,” he said.
Come Easter Sunday, April 12, it will be much of the same—parishioners unable to come to the physical church location. But until further notice, parishioners are staying home, staying safe, and practicing “social distancing.”
There will still be Easter Sunday services. Sure, maybe you won’t be able to show off that newly-minted Easter suit at the church, but the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection will be beamed into the homes of many African Americans in the Pittsburgh area, thanks to the internet and social media.
It’s the new normal, for now. But overall, Rev. Grayson told the Courier, “I know people are hungry to be in the Lord’s house.”
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: REV. GLENN GRAYSON SR., far right, pastor of Wesley Center AME Zion Church in the Hill District, passes out a palm and communion to an individual near the Centre Avenue church on Palm Sunday, April 5. It was a way for people to receive communion and palms in a safe manner during the coronavirus pandemic. – Photos by Courier photographer J.L. Martello)