KENNEBUNKPORT — Parishioners gathered in front of the First Congregational Church before the service Sunday to hand out palms and walk in an outdoor procession led by a pony named Rosie.

As Christians embarked on Holy Week with Palm Sunday celebrations, several congregations around the state held outdoor processions or incorporated animals in their services.

The procession at First Congregational was inspired by the church’s Sunday school children. Nearly 100 people attended the service led by the Rev. Derek White.

Church-goers stopped to pat Rosie before the service.

Kids took turns feeding her baby carrots, smiling and giggling at the first sight of her big teeth.

“She loves the attention,” said Nathan Cole, 17, who takes care of Rosie at a nearby farm.

It was an especially moving day for White, who baptized his 6-week-old son, Silas, during the service.

“It’s not every day that a dad gets to be pastor of a church and baptize his son. It was quite a celebration,” White said afterward.

White, who came to the church just over a year ago, said Sunday’s outdoor procession was part of the church’s efforts to incorporate new elements into worship and new forms of ministry to help the church grow.

When he came to the church, a typical service drew a mere 35 people. Now, attendance has doubled and on some Sundays the pews are filled.

Jan Dicey, a church member, said the procession “was something fun and different to try to add to the celebration.”

Long-standing traditions marked worship at other Maine churches.

Members of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Lisbon waved palms in an outdoor procession at the start of their service.

Gail White, a deacon at the church, said the service began with rejoicing but also looked to the end of Holy Week, with Jesus on the cross.

“It was a spiritually emotional service,” White said.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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