During the month of May, we are telling the stories of Messy Church in the USA. This week Rev. Jim White, writes how Palmdale’s United Methodist Messy Church has navigated the Pandemic and emerged with an in-person Easter 2021 in a neighborhood park. Jim serves on the Messy Church Board of Directors and has led Messy Churches in Hawaii and California.
Messy Church adapts!
Palmdale United Methodist Church is nestled in the high desert of Southern California. We’re approximately an hour or so N/NE of LAX airport. We’re a tight knit community that enjoys being “away” from the hustle and bustle of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan. Our church (like just about every one else’s) has been having worship exclusively online since mid-March 2020. Our Messy Church community valiantly attempted to maintain our gatherings – first via zoom (which worked out great at first, as we were hungry for any kind of contact)… then via YouTube (to watch on your own & participate at home)… then Messy Church “to go” (where we delivered Messy Church in a bag to do at home). But if I’m being completely honest, the longer the pandemic lasted, the smaller our Messy gatherings grew. We ended up having Messy events every other month or so.
For Easter 2021, we wanted to do something in-person… so we planned a Messy Easter @ the Park event for Saturday, April 10th. There were about 8 of us on the planning team, and we brainstormed, planned & delegated so everyone had a role to play. The team figured that the Sunday AFTER Easter might be open and available on people’s calendars – especially since more and more folks were getting vaccinated, and feeling more comfortable in outdoor gatherings. (SPOILER ALERT: boy, were we right!) Over 75 people gathered at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale, CA to celebrate Messy Easter! The majority were families connected to the church, yes… but we also had 4 families from our church’s preschool… plus a couple of other “friends of families” who came. There were multiple generations – including many seniors who have no children or grandchildren in our community – but just wanted to get out and connect with people face to face. People were required to wear masks, and come with their own chairs/blankets for the 90 min event.
After gathering & connecting for a few moments, we began our Messy Easter event with a retelling of the Easter Story from the Gospel of John. Seven young people from two families (ranging from 2nd grade through 8th grades) reenacted the resurrection story (including substituting the body of Jesus for 3 pool noodles wrapped in a bed sheet) and the good news of Easter. It was fabulous! Then we divided folks into teams for our egg/spoon relay (yes, that one)… followed by a pool noodle team javelin throw (no, we didn’t use the body of Jesus for this!). High winds made this event quite comical. The highlight of the day, however, was an Egg Scavenger Hunt! 12 eggs were printed on paper & laminated, then “hidden” around the park. Teams had to find each egg and write down the “special letter” on the back of the paper. Once all 12 special letters were found, they were to unscramble the letters to spell a special word (it was RESURRECTION). An amazing time was had by all during this event! Finally, individuals and families lined up to get “messy crafts to-go” for home! We had 3 crafts (and supplies) plus Easter candy to fill their bags with as we sent them on their way. But of course, folks stuck around to talk with each other and share in the warmth of the beautiful Southern California spring day.
As we debriefed the event, our team was very encouraged at not only the large turnout, but the positive feedback from folks! We’re energized and excited to plan our next MESSY CHURCH IN THE PARK event, and can’t wait to share it with even more people. “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!”
Pastor Jim White
Watch the Easter Fun at Messy Church at Palmdale
Thank you Jim and Palmdale Messy Church for Telling the Story!
We need your help to TELL THE STORY of Messy Church! Consider making a one-time or monthly donation during the month of May. Your gift makes it possible for Messy Church USA to equip Messy Churches to START, SUSTAIN and CONNECT.
Thank you for your contribution! https://messychurchusa.org/donate